Getting and Keeping Patients for Your Dental Practice

A dentist uses a dentist's mirror to inspect her patient's teeth

Dentists everywhere know that acquiring and keeping patients is essential to the success of their dental practices. However, many dentists struggle with this task, unsure of how to market their services effectively or what tactics work best. In this article, we will explore some tips and strategies for attracting patients to your practice and retaining them over time.

Why do patients choose one dental practice over another?

There are many reasons why patients choose one dental practice over another. To most patients, every dentist looks the same, and they’ll get the same treatments and results whichever they go to. Most patients will consider recommendations from family and friends too when choosing, too. Their first impression of you makes a big difference here — if they see you as different in a good way, they’ll probably choose you. Otherwise, you have just as much chance of being chosen as the next dentist.

But let’s say they end up visiting your clinic instead of someone else’s — this is where they form an opinion of whether they’ll come back or not. Some patients may be concerned with the facilities and whether the practice is clean and up-to-date. Others may prefer a friendly and genuine environment where they feel comfortable and cared for. Ultimately, the quality of service will be the biggest factor in their decision to come back. Patients want to know that they’re being seen by a competent and thorough dentist who is honest about what treatments are necessary. They also want to be sure that the practice is accessible and convenient for them to get to. By taking all of these factors into consideration, you can make your clinic stand out over the competition and attract more patients.

How to make your dental practice more appealing to potential patients

So, let’s talk about first impressions. As mentioned previously, most clinics and dentists look the same to patients, so to increase the likelihood of them choosing you, you have to deliver a finely crafted message to them through your brand identity. You want potential patients to see your practice as professional, clean, and welcoming. One way to convey these messages is through your website and social media platforms. Make sure your website is up-to-date and includes clear information about your services. Update your location on Google, too. Use social media to show off your unique brand, and try to get the message across that they will have a positive patient experience with you. It’s also important to play to your strengths. If you have a friendly and personable staff, make sure that comes across on your website and social media. If you offer a unique service or have state-of-the-art equipment, be sure to highlight that as well. Simply put, you want to put your best foot forward and convey a message that will appeal to potential patients. You may need help with PR for your dental practice, so don’t hesitate to consult marketing professionals for this. By taking these steps, you can increase the chances that potential patients will choose your practice over others in the area.

A dentist talks to two parents about their children's oral health

What you can do to keep your existing patients coming back

It costs less to keep an existing patient than to attract a new one. So what can you do to keep your patients coming back?

  1. Make sure you’re providing quality care. This includes staying up-to-date on the latest techniques, using the best materials, and taking the time to get to know your patients and their individual needs.
  2. Always be professional and courteous. This means being on time for appointments, returning phone calls promptly, and making sure the office is clean and orderly. Be cordial or friendly depending on how comfortable the patients are in your interactions, and make sure they are seen as individuals who you value. When dealing with children, offer them a treat or toy afterward — by doing this, you make the experience easier for the parents, making it more likely that they will return.
  3. Offer fair prices and accept major insurance plans. This will make it easy for patients to afford the care they need. It’s all right to try to upsell, but avoid being pushy. It’s also more sustainable to add small profit margins for quality services than to gouge your patients but provide mediocre service.
  4. Offer versatile payment options and loyalty incentives. Your patients will like it if you are flexible enough to adjust to their current financial situation. If you offer them discounts and freebies too, they will keep coming back, earning you more profit in the long run.

By following these tips, you can make sure your patients keep coming back — again and again.

Getting more referrals from loyal patients

It’s every business’s goal to get more referrals from their loyal patients. After all, referral business is some of the best business you can get, especially in dentistry. Not only are referral patients usually pre-sold on your product or service, but they’re also more likely to be high-value customers who stick around for the long haul. So how can you go about getting more referrals from your loyal patients?

  1. Offer referral bonuses. This could be a discount on their next purchase, a freebie, or even just a thank-you card. You can even gamify this, with more rewards per referral, or have each referral equate to a number of points that they can trade for rewards.
  2. Offer group packages or group discounts. This is a great way to incentivize referral business, as your patient can save money by referring their friends or family members to you.
  3. Make it easy for your patients to refer others to you. Provide referral forms, and assist new patients in transferring dental records. If you have a website and a patient portal, you can use a QR code system or automated link verification like what other websites use for referrals.

By making it easy and rewarding for patients to refer others to you, you’re sure to see an uptick in referral business in no time.


In order to keep your patients coming back for more, you need to provide quality care that is affordable and easy to access. Offering group discounts and referral bonuses are great ways to encourage loyalty among your patient base. By following these tips, you can ensure that your patients remain happy and loyal, resulting in more business for years to come.

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