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What do Patients Think Makes a Good Dental Cinic?

Gaining and keeping clients is at the heart of any succesful business. This is true for the largest corporations down to one-man-bands. In the new climate where dental practices funded by the NHS are becaoming as rare as rocking horse poo, you need to be able to compete ...

You are sitting in the waiting room listening to the phone ring endlessly, yet the receptionist never answers. You can hear the drill in the next room as you watch the sickly looking fish swim around the green waters of their neglected tank. Panic wells up inside you and your insides knot themselves into a tight ball of fear. Then it happens! Your name is called and you rise. Each step towards the door is an effort until finally you see 'the chair'! The cold unemotional face stares down at you, and you are blinded by the overhead light forced in front of your open mouth. The smell, the noise and the pain overwhelm you. Welcome to the Dentist!

A little over the top?  Unfortunately, this is the experience of many patients when they visit the dental clinic. The main reasons patients cite for their negative experiences are an uncomfortable waiting room environment, unwelcoming or insensitive staff, inadequate pain management, lack of advice or time to discuss concerns, and being made to feel embarrassed or awkward. If you run a dental clinic and are keen to see it succeed and prosper, take a little time to read about what your patients really want from you.


A clinic's waiting room should help patients to relax prior to their appointment, allowing them to feel calm and tranquil and alleviating any anxiety they may have. 10% of the population suffer from Dentophobia where the waiting room can be a deal breaker. Some successful clinics play calming music, or have a water wall. They offer comfortable seating and a choice of beverages. There may be activities for children to occupy them while they wait such as puzzles or play areas. Patients want to feel special, attended to and unique. Patients are people! A lifestyle video can help people understand the benefits of how your practice can help them in their day to day lives. Use this environment to engage with and talk to your patients, discussing their concerns and anxieties and giving them honest advice and information about their choices. Take some time to go and sit in your own waiting room. How special do you feel?

Building relationships

Patients are people. Take time to build relationships with them. Some of the most successful dental clinics have a family orientated approach. Be friendly, professional and informative, taking the time to show understanding and compassion for each person. Engage with your patients and be proactive. Some dental clinics offer 'Tooth Fairy Parties' for children to help them understand the importance of oral hygiene from an early age. Give patients an open and clear explanation of prices, and don't forget to provide aftercare advice. Remember, the tooth and nothing but the tooth!

How accessible are you to your patients? In a busy practice answering the phone to all and sundry is not always an option. Consider the use of social media to advise and inform patients, or to answer any queries or concerns they may have. There is nothing more frustrating than being given an appointment by post, which you cannot then cancel or change because no one ever answers the phone. Let people know the choices they have. Do you offer a range of pain-killing optionsScience Articles, such as anaesthetic gel or conscious sedation? Do you offer headphones or DVD headsets to help people who are anxious about the noise of the drill? Make sure they are aware of their options.

Patients today have the luxury of choice. Make them choose you.

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