Communication is a big part of patient satisfaction.
For any dental office to succeed, there must be effective communication between the dental team and their patients. This factor is essential for building trust and improving the dentist-patient relationship. When all parties are on the same page, treatment outcomes improve, and the patient has a positive dental experience.
Beyond applicable dental experience, patients seek a dentist who communicates with clarity, empathy, and transparency. Though patients appreciate the convenience of digital communication, nothing replaces the personal interaction that continues to foster strong relationships.
Why Effective Communication Matters
Dental office reviews are based on either positive or negative communication. So when your dental team is trained to effectively communicate with patients from the time they walk through your door to the moment they leave, patients will gladly recommend your office to others. You’ll see a higher patient retention rate and more new patients coming in because of it.
Patients use both social media and word of mouth to help your office develop its reputation. The goal is to become a dental office known for caring about the dentist-patient relationship and for valuing every patient who seeks treatment from you.
Tips for Effectively Communicating With Dental Patients
Use the following tips to help ensure the best possible communication between you, your team, and your patients.
1. Actively listen and empathize.
When treating patients, listening is just as critical as educating. Truly hearing from your patients helps deepen your connection with them. You can more effectively manage their fears by attentively listening to their questions and concerns. This can also enhance their overall experience, leading to a long-term dentist-patient relationship.
Here’s how to practice active listening:
- Clear your mind of distractions and judgments.
- Give the patient your undivided attention.
- Avoid the temptation to interrupt to discuss your thoughts.
- Display positive body language.
- Paraphrase what they have said.
When appropriate, ask open-ended questions to learn more about an issue your patient brings up.
2. Provide clear, jargon-free answers.
Dental terminology can confuse some patients and lead to anxiety or denial of treatment. Prevent communication issues by keeping your website and conversations free of medical and dental speak. Use language everyone can easily comprehend to help your patient better understand their diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment options.
Using visual aids like diagrams, models, or educational videos can aid comprehension. It also helps the patient make an informed decision about their oral health.
3. Be conscious of your body language.
Verbal communication is crucial to successful treatment outcomes. But what you don’t say can also be extremely informative. Everyone on your team should be aware of their own body language as well as their patient’s nonverbal cues. This awareness will help you maintain an approachable posture and assess your patients’ comfort levels.
There are a few nonverbal ways to ease patient anxiety. For instance, you might try displaying good posture to convey confidence and professionalism. And sometimes, simply offering a genuine smile can help patients feel relaxed.
4. Explain treatment options and their possible outcomes.
Patients appreciate total transparency when it comes to their dental care. Your team must provide straightforward information about their diagnosis, treatment options, risks, and potential outcomes. It is every patient’s right to have every detail regarding their prognosis so they can decide how to proceed.
With open and transparent communication, you can help your patients understand the benefits and drawbacks of different treatment plans. They will then have all the information necessary to choose based on their values, preferences, and budget.
5. Follow up and engage with patients.
Patients need to know that their dental team will support them every step of the way, including after their treatment. If they need a follow-up appointment, schedule it before they leave the office. Ask them about their communication preferences for future visits. Some patients prefer phone calls, while others respond better to text messages.
Depending on the type of upcoming treatment, your patient may appreciate a follow-up phone call afterward. These calls will deepen your patient’s appreciation of you and your time. Encourage them to ask questions and discuss any concerns they may have post-treatment.
Improve your communication to create a successful practice.
Effective communication is the foundation of a successful dental practice and positive patient outcomes. Your team can improve treatment results, build trust with patients, and reduce patient anxiety by actively listening and communicating well.
Prioritizing communication skills will create better patient experiences and overall satisfaction for everyone involved.
Expand your offerings with orthodontic courses.
The American Orthodontic Society wants to help your dental practice grow. By offering orthodontics at your office, you’ll provide more value to your patient base. Check out our orthodontic courses that can improve your patients’ experiences. Contact us today to learn more.
To learn more about our popular orthodontics courses for pediatric and general dentists, check out one of the upcoming events below.