Mastering Patient Retention in General Dentistry


Patient retention can be challenging in today’s day and age. People are busy, have shorter attention spans, and just want to get through every day without a hitch. The dentist might not be everyone’s idea of a good time, so it’s essential to make the most out of the sometimes short time you spend with patients. Communication efforts both big and small—think easy to find reminders to an excellent office environment—boost patient retention and grow your practice.

So, long gone are the days when dentists sent out postcards reminding patients of their appointments but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to communicate effectively—in fact, it’s easier now than it was before. And it results in great patient retention rates.

In today’s day and age of modern technology, making patient-dentist communication streamlined, simple, and accessible is more important than ever.  Your patients just want to know where they have to be, when, and what to expect! 

Most of all—they want to be able to access that information right on their desktop computer, tablet, or phone. By making communication with your practice easy, you build loyalty with your patients and encourage their return for years to come. They might even recommend their friends and family see you for all their dental needs as well, ultimately growing your practice and expanding your community. 

Whether you’re a general practice dentist that caters to kids, a surgeon, or an endodontist, communication goes a long way in making your patients feel comfortable and cared for. These tips can help you provide quality care, educate your patients, personalize their experience at your practice, and just make dental visits generally more convenient for everyone involved. Read on for a far-reaching guide on mastering patient retention by using skilled communication and sophisticated technological tools. 


Using Technological Tools

It’s 2023, and the way we communicate has changed so much, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. People are more comfortable with virtual consultations, online communications, and web-based reminders. In fact—studies show that healthcare providers need to build and maintain a robust online presence in order to succeed. Establish yourself as a trusted dentist by being accessible on the internet. Eventually, you will meet your patients face-to-face. Afterall, tthey haven’t invented telehealth teeth cleanings just yet! Build your presence on the web to help your patients feel like they already know you. 

Software tools like Intiveo make the ins and outs of online communication easier to navigate for both your team and your patients. Automated appointment reminders and online chat options give your patients peace of mind because they know where they are supposed to be and when. And they can ask you a question anytime they need to! This type of open and accessible communication makes dental visits so much calmer. That goes a long way in a profession that is notorious for nervous patients and general anxiety.

In addition to soothing any nerves patients might have, using tech to communicate makes your job easier. With straightforward communication that’s tracked and facilitated all in one place, your team can focus on providing stellar service because they’re not caught up in the muck of sending emails or constantly calling patients. All that stuff takes time! When you use technological tools to automate what you can (with a personal touch, of course), your staff experiences a happier work environment and improved work-life balance. 

Patient engagement software helps you build long-lasting and solid relationships that translate into returning patients. Harness the power of technology and make everyone’s lives easier. You’ll see a boost in patient retention when you use online communication tools at your practice. 


Providing Great Quality Service

Patients want to receive quality care from their dentist. This sounds obvious, but sometimes it’s easier said than done, especially in general dentistry where patients may not have a specific issue they hope to address. Take steps to ensure your patients are receiving the best care possible, and they’ll keep coming back. 


Listen Up!

This all starts with listening. By being an attentive and active listener, you show your patients that you care about what they have to say. When they feel heard and seen by you they’ll feel infinitely more comfortable putting their dental care into your hands. Appropriate eye contact, kind body language, and indications that you are paying attention to their needs go a long way. 

Once you’ve registered and thought about what they tell you, you can ask follow-up questions to both show you’re involved and to get a better understanding of how to provide great care. Even general practice dental work can be complicated for someone unfamiliar with medical jargon or technical terms. Explain next steps in simple and easy-to-understand language so your patients know what is coming next. Communication is a two way street, too! Intiveo’s technology allows your patients to reach out directly to your staff so training all of your team in active listening, appropriate language, and good bedside manners can improve patient retention.


A Home Away From Home

Make your office somewhere patients want to visit. It’s no secret that going to the dentist isn’t exactly everyone’s favorite activity. From general practice dentistry to specialized surgeons, a dental visit can be nerve-wracking for people of all ages. Throw out the Vanity Fair from 2017! Stock your waiting area with up-to-date magazines or other reading materials. Age-appropriate toys for pediatric patients can keep little minds occupied before a cleaning and help parents manage their time during a visit.

Comfy chairs, soothing design choices, cold water,  and pleasant decor like live plants or tasteful art may seem like minor details but they all work together to make your office a desirable place for patients to visit. Oddly enough, this might also be a time for patients to stop and escape the hustle and bustle of their hectic jobs. When they look forward to the time they spend in your practice, they’re sure to want to return—a big win for patient retention!

While an awesome waiting room benefits both you and your patients, quality service dictates that you don’t hold them up for too long. Be punctual with your appointments. No one wants to feel like their time is being wasted. When you are on time with your patients they receive the message that you are responsible and that you respect them. This translates into great patient retention rates. 

While they’re in your actual dental chair, a TV with streaming services or games can calm down ansty patients or distract wiggly kids. This makes cleanings easier for you, your hygienists, and your patients. Offer blankets, music, or other entertainment option and you’ll emerge as the best dentist on the block!


Slick swag anyone?

Give them a treat. It’s as straightforward as that. Patients of all ages enjoy leaving the dentist with a new toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and other oral hygiene accouterments. Kids love sugar-free candy, stickers, toys, or anything small they can pick out from a treasure box at the end of their visit. For adults, not having to visit the drugstore to buy something as mundane as a good toothbrush goes a surprisingly long way. You’re making their lives easier! And not to mention, they leave with clean teeth at the same time. They’ll be happy to come back again.


Keep it Clean

In addition to state–of–the–art facilities, calming amenities, and timeliness, cleanliness really matters for a successful dental practice. Maintaining a sterile environment is deeply engrained in most dentists, so show your patients how meticulous your practice is by using light-coloured interior design and keeping all surfaces clean. This dedication to safety shows your patients you are actively committed to their, yours, and your staff’s wellbeing.

All the outward efforts to keep your patients comfortable are important to providing quality service and to boosting patient retention. But even before that, you’ve got to get patients in the door! That’s where convenience and accessibility come in…


Make Appointments Easy 

Patients value convenience and accessibility when it comes to healthcare services. As part of preventative care for patients of all ages, regular visits to the dentist might feel like a chore on a long to-do list of activities. Everyone is busier than ever, so make it super simple for your patients to schedule appointments and access your services and they’ll keep coming back both for your great care and because it’s easy to navigate.

Utilize online booking options where patients can easily see available appointment times and compare their schedules to when they can come in for a cleaning. Almost everyone uses an online calendar to track their commitments far into the future so having your own schedule online as well makes it simple for patients to plan it in advance. By making your services accessible, people will want to come back because it’s simply not a hassle. 


Speak Their Language!

Other accessibility tools can include implementing ways to overcome language barriers. Intiveo’s patient engagement software can send messages in English, Spanish, French, and Chinese. If you’re working with a population who doesn’t speak English as a first language, being able to communicate with them in their mother tongue results in better diagnoses and proper recommendations. 

Furthermore, accommodating other languages shows you care about your patient’s well-being. Navigating a world where you’re not a native speaker is exhausting! And when it comes to healthcare it can be even more overwhelming. Poor communication leads to patient frustration and in the worst case—medical errors. Improve patient retention and increase accessibility to quality care when you expand your communication abilities in a multilingual way. 

Great service, quality care, and accessibility also comes in the form of cultural knowledge. Doing market research on the demographics you’ll be serving can give you insight into the different populations who may come into your office. When you educate yourself and your staff on any particular cultural norms or expectations your patients hold around their dental visit, you can adjust your style of care in order to make them feel more comfortable. This helps your staff serve people from all different and diverse backgrounds in a way that makes patients feel safe and understood. 


Education and Communication are Key

Educate your patients and they’ll feel empowered. Materials that help patients fully understand the importance of routine checkups and at-home care allow them to make informed decisions every time they step foot into your office. Even better, educational information makes patients active participants in maintaining their own oral health. Intiveo offers tools that can generate educational material online in the form of emailed PDFs, informative videos, infographics, and more. Many of your patients likely lack some knowledge about oral hygiene techniques, common dental conditions, or oral health in general. That’s where you and your team come in! 

Providing digestible educational info that a patient can return to from home eases stress and pressure on your practice to answer every single last detail. Of course, you should remain open and willing to always discuss care with your patients but when they leave with all the information they already need it means fewer phone calls and fewer sleepless nights for all involved. 

Create resources that work just how you want them to with personalized educational material options and make admin a breeze. This also frees up front-office staff’s time, allowing them to build relationships that foster patient retention. When they’re not worried about answering a question (because the easy-to-access educational good already exists!), they can get to know patients on a deeper level. This makes your team more relaxed and reassures patients that they are in capable and attentive hands. 

Incorporating education is especially important for practices that might see pediatric patients, older adults, or more complicated cases. When people feel informed and involved in the process they feel motivated to prioritize their dental health. For kids, fun books, activities, and rewards for participating and understanding the importance of routine dental hygiene makes them feel more confident in your care. 

Older adults might be interested in more face-to-face time so providing that consultation early, accompanied by take-home information, is a strong indicator that you personally care about the next steps and their continuing health. Quite plainly put, when your patients know they can consult the information you’ve provided as an expert or reach out to your staff for further explanation, they feel safe and secure under your watchful eye. That makes them want to come back again and again. Patient education bolsters patient retention and engagement. All wins for your practice!

Education can also prevent costly dental emergencies. When your patients know what is going on in their mouth or what to expect when it comes to next steps they can seek timely intervention. This commitment to continuing care thwarts any expensive emergency visits or the progression of adverse conditions. Give your patients the tools they need to communicate with you in a prompt and understandable manner by first educating them on the subject. Hey, knowledge is power!


Personalized Care

Education goes hand-in-hand with providing personalized care. When you know exactly what your patient needs you can provide a tailored experience—including educational material—that will help them through every step of the dental process. What does personalized care beyond education look like and how can you achieve it? For a dentist, it involves a lot of change from patient to patient. Pay attention to patient’s unique needs and preferences. Everyone is an individual!

Get to know your patients through conversation and examination sessions in order to provide personalized care. This will clue you into any dental anxieties, physical limitations, medical history, or specific preferences. By creating a comfortable and supportive environment that caters to a patient’s specific needs you can ensure they feel well cared for and listened to. Providing personalized care pays off in the long run, too. 

Not only will your patients want to return to a dentist that knows all about them and their likes, but you can also create long-term specialized treatment plans that address everyone’s needs. This means less stress for your patients who know they’re in for less invasive procedures or simpler visits because they’ve already been receiving all-important personalized service from you and your staff.


Read Those Reviews!

There’s no better way to create personalized patient care than to ask your clients for reviews. Intiveo can help you send automated prompts asking for feedback internally. When you receive a positive response, you can even ask the reviewer to post their reviews in a public forum like Yelp, Facebook, Google Reviews, or any other social media platform. This simultaneously generates business and lets you know what your practice is or isn’t doing right. Surveys are also an excellent part of the review process that provide personalized information. Asking your patients to rate you and their most recent visit gives you valuable intel on what they like. That way you can tailor your approach to do more of that and less of what might make them nervous. 

By creating personalized patient care you show that you respect those who come into your practice. It also indicates a strong commitment to building lasting relationships based on open communication and trust. That welcoming, friendly, and personalized atmosphere makes your patients stick around. The details matter, too! Remembering people’s personal preferences, family information they share with you, and medical history makes patients feel special … because they are! 


Follow Up!

Don’t forget about your patients after they leave the chair. Aftercare is just as important as the actual procedure. Whether it’s minimal or has more complex demands, aftercare has to happen at home where dental providers aren’t present. So, make it easy for patients to know what they need to do. Send them home feeling safe and looked after with tailored information on what to expect next. If the visit was more involved than your routine cleaning, a personal follow-up email, call, or text message will make patients feel well cared for and like they can reach out to you, as well. This puts your patients at ease and provides detailed intel that may prove valuable to you and your staff moving forward.

Personalized follow-up also creates successful outcomes for patients and providers because it fosters a sense of familiarity and genuine communication. It’s much easier for patients to come back when they feel like they know you, and you know them!


Intiveo’s Tools

From the first consultation to aftercare and everything in between, Intiveo’s patient engagement software provides tools for your practice’s success. Keep patients coming back and learn and grow throughout the care process yourself with automated reminders, chat options, review prompts, and so much more. There is no practice without patients, so harness the technological goodies that make providing care infinitely easier! By providing educational information online, listening to every word your patient says, bridging language gaps, and curating your practice as a relaxing environment, you’ll see wondrous patient retention numbers. 

It sounds like a lot of work, but don’t be intimidated by the prospect! With a bit of elbow grease and a lot of administrative assistance from Intiveo’s powerful patient engagement software, you’ll be well on your way to success. By leaving the details to Intiveo’s system, you’ll enjoy so much more time in both a professional and personal sense. The time not spent constantly contacting patients, tracking down analog files, or sorting out how to best answer questions can be dedicated to personalizing your offerings, creating educational content, and growing your practice.

 Take advantage of modern technology that makes being a dentist more convenient and accessible. It’s good for everyone involved!

Book a meeting with us today to learn more.