8 questions dentists should ask new patients
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Patient care and comfort are essential aspects of any successful dental practice. While the number of patients that an office attracts is undoubtedly important, making a positive first impression and building long-lasting relationships with them is what allows offices to flourish.

To help build strong relationships with new patients, here are eight open-ended questions that dental professionals should ask to help keep them coming back to your practice.

  1. How can we help you?
    • Let the patient explain in their own words what brought them in and allow them to control the initial dialogue. This will make them feel more comfortable and like they have an equal stake in the goals of their appointment.
  2. What are your long-term goals for your health, teeth, and smile?
    • With this information, you can cater patient appointments (and treatment as needed) to what they want and need—leading to a more personal and compassionate experience.
  3. How important is oral hygiene in your daily routine?
    • After hearing the patients smile goals, learning about their daily oral hygiene routine will establish a basis of what the patient is doing a great job at and the areas where they may need to improve. If you notice any inconsistencies between what they tell you they do at home for oral hygiene, and what they appear to actually be doing at home based on your exam, you can address those gently as well.
  4. What did your last dentist tell you?
    • In some cases, previous dentists may have shared opinions or treatment suggestions with the patient that are different from your own. Determining these discrepancies will help determine the best course of action for the patient going forward and show them you prioritize honesty and accuracy in patient care.
  5. Do you have a budget in mind?
    • While examining patients and advising on needed treatments, you can offer various solutions for a budget plan that caters to their specific financial needs. This also makes them feel like you care about them as a person outside of your office and recognize they have other financial obligations.
  6. When would you like to be finished?
    • This can help you understand the urgency behind the request and help you build a treatment timeline that fits within the patient’s expectations.
  7. Have you ever had a negative experience with a dentist? How can we avoid this?
    • In some cases, previous dentists may have shared judgements or handled procedures in a way that was not ideal for the patient. Ensuring that these undesirable experiences will not be repeated will create a more comfortable environment where patients feel secure and heard. Caution towards patient sensitivity should be a top priority when it comes to this question.
  8. How would you rate the professionalism of our staff and your experience?
    • This follow-up question when wrapping up their first appointment is essential. Receiving this feedback will allow your practice to reevaluate the weaknesses and strengths of your staff while also making the patient feel like an important member of your practice.

You must put time and energy towards fostering early relationships with each new patient that comes through your door. Getting to know patient needs on a personal level and asking these eight questions will help you deliver dental care with the passion and enthusiasm that all patients deserve. By assuring that patients feel heard and comfortable, your dental office will prosper with loyal patients that want to keep coming back.