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Changing trends in the dentist-patient relationship


Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

October 8, 2021

Observation, Reason, Human understanding, Courage; These make the Physician.          Dr. Martin. H. Fischer

A common phrase used in dental literature states that “the most important health service factor which affects the patient satisfaction is the quality of Dentist-patient relationship!” Surely, the dentist-patient relationship plays a vital role in the final outcome of the treatment. But, the very thought of visiting a Dentist sends chills down the spine for many people. Fear related to the dental treatment and instruments, previous painful experiences, and overall phobia related to hospitals and clinics keeps many people away from availing the benefits of dental treatment. In such a case, an assuring Dentist and a dental team play a significant role to curb the patient’s anxiety to some extent.

The ever-green dentist-patient relationship

The Dentist-patient relationship is the core of any dental practice. The Dentist’s skill, experience, accurate diagnosis, and treatment planning, managing the patient’s apprehension, and performing the actual treatment require a lot of attention as well as dedication. Therefore, trust and confidence in the attending Dentist is like the key to one step towards a successful treatment. Throwback to the times when the patient was considered half cured by simply empathetic words used by a doctor. But as science and technology progressed, the interpersonal aspects of a doctor-patient relationship were greatly overshadowed.

It’s a two-way responsibility that has to be equally shared and nurtured by both the Dentist and the patient. In fact, there are a few factors that help to grow the Dentist-patient bond. Let’s have a look-


An open dialogue between a Dentist and the patient related to the treatment is like a war half won. The Dentist should be able to efficiently convey the entire treatment plan to the patient. At the same time, the Dentist should also know what the patient is exactly expecting from his/her treatment plan. Most of the time it is seen that the patients are hesitant to ask anything and because of which there can be confusion related to the treatment and its final outcome. In such a scenario, effective and open communication between the Dentist and the patient puts a halt to any confusion.

Active Listening

Even though we are blessed with an era where most of the advanced diagnostic equipment makes the work easy, nothing can beat a detailed history taken in patient’s own words. A Dentist should always encourage their patients to give a proper history of their symptoms. This piece of information holds a significant value which leads to arrive at an accurate diagnosis of the disease.

Education and awareness

Since the oral cavity is highly forgiving, it is the responsibility of the dental clinician to educate the patient wisely regarding the importance of maintaining good oral health.


Managing old patients the new way

“Old is gold!” It’s a very familiar age-old phrase. But what does this phrase really convey? Well, it means something that is old but still has a high value. Isn’t that true in the case of old patients in the dental practice too? Of course, it is! Old patients seek and stick to only one Dentist for any kind of treatment for years altogether. They are extremely loyal to their dentist and have immense faith in their abilities! Apart from the dentist, it is also the dental team and a familiar and assuring clinic ambiance which plays a huge role in retaining the patient for year after year.

It’s a bond that has grown over many years of association. Hence, should not be taken for granted. Old patients give multiple referrals to other patients based on their positive experiences and the new referrals, in turn, generate more referrals. Thus, it’s a cumulative effect extremely beneficial for the growth and progress of the dental practice. Therefore, Dentists should always work on strengthening their bond with the old patients every time they visit the practice.


  • Focus on Holistic Dentistry.
  • Highlight the importance of the connection between oral health and general health.
  • An equal attention should be given to the referral patients by the old patients.
  • Train the dental team to greet the old patients with the same warmth and promptness every time they visit the clinic.
  • Make sure that there is some kind of value addition to the old patients every time they walk out of the practice.

Dealing with new patients in an innovative way

In today’s social media-driven age, getting a new footfall in the clinic is simply a click away! The digital revolution has made the online presence of every practice quite mandatory! It is not much difficult for these tech-savvy patients to read a review and find a nearby dental clinic. The online reviews can definitely generate more footfalls but what is more important is the retention of that patient. And building a long-term Dentist patient bond is a different story altogether.

Every time the patient walks into a dental clinic he/she is silently judging the facts based on the online search. In such a case, it is important to have synchronization between an online reputation of a clinic and the actual one.

Also, these days most dentists observe the popular trend of ‘online diagnosis’. These days many patients already have their treatment plan based on the ‘google diagnosis’. In such a case, it is the sole responsibility of the Dentist to break that bubble, clear all the myths, and present an authentic treatment plan to the patient.


  • Creating an authentic and genuine awareness amongst the tech-savvy patients.
  • Maintaining an effective dialogue between the dentist and patient.
  • The Dentist and patient must agree on the same treatment plan.
  • Winning the trust of a patient more on the dental chair than on social media.


Strategies to grow your dental practice

  • Always make a great first impression. These days a great first impression is virtual in the form of a website.
  • The entire staff or team members should be properly trained to in office etiquette on how to meet and greet the patient in the dental clinic.
  • Genuine feedbacks from the patient is the best way to assess the growth and progress of any dental practice.
  • An ethical marketing should be used to gain the attention of patients which highlights the significance of their oral health status.
  • Frequent patient education and awareness campaigns that are patient focused, loyal and cost effective which increases the footfall in the clinic is the most solid strategy for modern dental practice.
Author Bio: Dr Priyanka Bansode has completed her BDS from the prestigious Nair Hospital & Dental College, Mumbai. She has also completed her Post Graduate Fellowship in Microdentistry from Government Dental College, Mumbai and a Post Graduate Dip. In Forensic Science & Related Laws from Mumbai University. Dr Priyanka has a vast and a diverse experience of 11 years in clinical dentistry and has maintained her private practice of 7 years in Pune. She is keenly involved in community oral health and has been part of various diagnostic dental camps, attended several National & State Dental conferences and is an active member of many social organisations. Dr Priyanka was awarded the ‘Swayam siddha Puraskar’ by the Lion’s Club, Pune in 2018 on the eve of International Women’s Day. She believes in creating an awareness on oral health through her blogs at [email protected] and vlogs on her YouTube channel ‘Dr Priyanka Bansode.

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