08-26-2014

How Patients Choose A New Dentist

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This blog is written to help you step out of your shoes as the dentist and see the patient's perspective from the dental chair. Here are some things that consumers look for in finding a new dentist, what does your practice do to help answer new patient questions?

For the most part, patients are looking for:

  • Personality of Practitioner
  • Career Experience and Qualifications
  • Conservative Costs, but with Effective Results
  • Ratings and Reviews from Peers

According to the American Dental Association, when patients are searching for a new dentist they should consider either asking friends or family or local pharmacists to get an idea of what local dental surgeries are out there. Often, these recommendations come from personal experience and can give you a better insight into the service they provide.

Here are some additional facts we found through the ADA:

  • 30% of patients look for what unique treatments a practice can offer (such as one-day restorations or CEREC Machines)8% are looking for a new dentist because they have moved county. Dental practices are desperate to refill empty patient slots.
  • 27% of potential patients say the qualifications of their dental practitioner is 'very important' in their decision of who to sign-up to.
  • 12% of people don't understand dental fees, whilst 80% of all dentistry is elective, many people don't sign up to dental practices because they think it is expensive
  • 62% of people think that their dentist's attitude reflects on their choice to sign-up and say this is one of the biggest factors in their decision.

The Patient Perspective

If we were writing an article for a person seeking a new dentist, here's what we would tell them:

- What are your office hours? Am I free to contact you?

Remember that dental health isn't just about regular check-ups and dental surgery. If you should ever need it, your dentists should also be someone you can consult about any non-emergency dental question such as toothpaste or mouthwash recommendations.

- What is your approach to preventative dentistry?

A dentist that is working for you rather than for themselves will have a comprehensive approach to preventative dental medicine. It's simple to understand whether a dental practitioner is right for you based on this; you want to know that your dentists will prevent a cavity rather than wait for it to develop and require extensive surgery.

- What is your policy on missed appointments?

We all have hectic lives and sometimes we miss appointments. That is simply a fact of life and needs to be considered when choosing your dentist. You ideally want a practitioner who is accommodating and who will make your experience a positive one – you don't want a dental practice that will black-list you for one missed appointment. Knowing this policy in advance can save you a headache in the future.

Once these have been addressed, usually the best next move is to visit the office. This way you can take first hand stock of the office you will visit regularly. Does the staff seem friendly and accommodating: staff you would want to see every time you have to go to the dentist?

Make notes of things like cleanliness and functionality – these will be a good indicator not only of how well maintained the surgery is but also how much is invested in the atmosphere; little investment in the décor and upkeep usually hints at sloppy service.

Lastly, although dental care varies from state to state, it is a good idea to contact your local state dentist association. They can give you an idea of the types of oral healthcare practitioners operate and can sometimes give recommendations based on individual needs.

5 Tips to Present this Information to New Clients

  • Create an intro video for your website or social media site that introduces your practice and the warm, smiling faces of everyone at your practice.
  • Add a FAQ Section or New Patient information page on your website.
  • Reviews on your website are great, but consumers place more credibility to reviews on third-party sites such as Yelp. Spot-check your online reputation, and ask your patients to provide honest reviews.
  • Before and after photos strongly reflect your skills and consumers remember visual data more than anything else
  • Be sure to list your awards, years of practices, etc. wherever you can