As dental professionals, we know all about treating our patients. We can peer into their mouth, and, within a moment’s notice, discern what treatment they might need. We can wield our sharp, shiny tools and make their teeth look brand new. In some ways, we’re like miracle workers. We’re saving lives, giving people a smile they can wear confidently, and relieving our patients of any pain they might be suffering on a daily basis.

Being the authority on how to get quality dental care isn't new to any dental professional. But providing quality dental care is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to treating patients. Sometimes we forget that our patients are people like us. They have families, hobbies, jobs, and much more. We lose sight of the fact that they might be dealing with a maelstrom of emotions back home before they come into our practice. Paying for the dental treatment we’re giving them might not be as doable as we assumed. Not everyone is savvy about the best steps to take in order to keep their oral health in check.

It doesn't have to be that way. With these three truths, you can build better relationships with your patients. You can turn them into loyal and satisfied customers who rave about you to their family and friends. And when that happens, you’ll see your practice transform its trajectory. You'll watch your practice begin its ascent toward becoming the practice you always envisioned it would be.

1. They’re looking to you for guidance.

For some patients, coming in regularly isn’t ideal—especially if it isn't for necessary treatment. They'd rather come once in a blue moon or, worse, when they require urgent care. There are plenty of reasons why. There might be financial constraints, scheduling conflicts, or simply a bad habit of procrastination. That’s not good on either side, though. It leads to less productivity for our practice and, more importantly, it results in worse dental health for them. It’s up to us to guide them toward a solution that works better on both ends: consistent, frequent visits to the dental practice.

A patient might be fine with coming in for a filling or crown every now and then. Enduring that novocaine shot followed by drilling might not be a big deal for them. But as their healthcare provider, you should inform them about how they can avoid uncomfortable procedures like that. Complex procedures can be avoided simply, by ensuring that patients are practicing preventative care. 

Having a few check-ups might seem expensive to a patient who’s in a tough spot financially. But it’ll actually save them both money and discomfort in the long run. It’s up to you to help them understand that. When they realize that dentistry isn’t the expensive factor—negligence is—they’ll be willing to come in on a consistent basis. That’s a win-win where you can transform your practice from productive to super productive and your patients can stay more healthy. Who doesn’t want that?!

2. Sometimes they need alternative payment methods.

Guiding patients toward frequent visits that revolve around preventing more expensive and uncomfortable procedures can save them a lot of money. But sometimes that’s not enough to alleviate their financial concerns. Even affording something as minor as a cleaning can be difficult for some patients. 

That’s why many patients may require alternative payment methods. These can take form in a number of ways—membership plans, discount packages, referral bonuses, insurance options, etc. Understanding that patients might need a different way of paying for their care can make a huge difference in whether they accept treatment. Case acceptance is what allows patients to get the treatment they deserve while increasing the profitability you need to transform your practice into the practice of your dreams.

3. A strong relationship between a patient and a dental team can be the biggest asset of a dental practice.

When your patients love you, it can do wonders for your practice. They’ll be willing to leave reviews on the internet that praise your services, which is great for your online presence. They’ll be loyal patients, so you can have a recurring stream of revenue from their consistent visitations. And they’ll be quick to recommend you to their family and friends, which will add to that recurring stream of revenue as they also become loyal patients.

Having a brand with a great reputation can transform your dental practice into the town favorite. But building the brand of your dental practice starts by getting along with your patients. And the best way to gain their trust and get along with them is to really care about them, talk with them, and look out for their health rather than look out for your own profits. That means guiding them toward being consistent with preventative care and accommodating their financial needs.

What’s your relationship with your patients?

Without your patients, your practice is nothing. Your job is to improve their lives and, while you might know everything about oral health, there’s more to dentistry than just fixing teeth. If you want to transform your practice into your dream practice, then it starts with your patients. And these three simple truths can really make the difference you need in your practice in order to get it there.

If you're interested in more content like this, join the Trapped in an OP Facebook group today where dental professionals from around the world encourage, support, and advise each other!