Patients come and go for any number of reasons, like moving to a new city or changing insurance companies. And many dental practices spend a lot of time and money recruiting new patients, since there often seems to be more practice options than patients to go around.

So, once you do get a new patient in the door, how can your team make sure you’re converting those patients into returning ones? Here’s a few tried and true tips:

Stay Fresh

First impressions aren’t really everything, are they? Actually, they are. Make sure the first impression new patients get is of a clean, bright and odor-free dental office. Then, surprise and delight the returning patients by completing mini-makeovers regularly.

These don’t have to be budget-busters, but changing a chair out here and there or rearranging the wall decor can make an impact when it comes to ensuring that your patients care about the space in which your practice resides.

Be Flexible

Showing that your office’s flexibility is key when recruiting new patients, and then keeping them. Start by thinking beyond the standard 9 to 5 business hours. Adding hours beyond those of traditional offices may attract and help retain new patients.

This can be as simple as opening later one day a week, so you can stay later to accommodate patients requiring later appointment times, or opening your practice one Saturday morning each month. Anything to help your business stand out as being a more flexible practice for patients will help.

Pre-Book Appointments

Whenever possible, don’t let a patient leave before scheduling their next visit. Since it’s likely six months or a year out, you can be flexible to their needs, and find a day of the week and time that works best for them. Plus, if they already have an appointment scheduled, they’re more likely to keep it.


Patients are more likely to think negatively about your practice if you are nagging them. So, whatever you do, don’t be aggressive, especially if they haven’t booked another appointment.

The general rule of thumb should be to follow-up two times, one phone call and one postcard or email. Then, leave it up to them to connect with your team to book their next appointment.

This rule should apply for both new and current patients, as well, when you’re reminding them of their next scheduled appointment. Touch base with two different methods roughly three to four weeks prior just as a friendly reminder.

Ask the Right Questions

Always ask your patients for feedback. Whether this includes about their comfort, their experience, or the services you offer, your patients will appreciate knowing that you care about their wants and needs.

Just remember: if you do ask them for feedback, be prepared to take action. If they say your chairs aren’t comfortable, then it might be time for new dental headrests or backrests. And, if they say they had a negative experience with your staff, address it. You’ll be glad that you addressed their concerns when you start seeing a higher number of returning patients at your office.