How To Keep Your Patients Coming Back

One of the key factors in achieving long-term success in any dental practice is patient retention. While constantly acquiring new patients is important, retaining existing patients is perhaps even more important due to intangibles such as goodwill, reputation, and many unsolicited referrals (to say the least).

So how can we increase the propensity of our patients to come back to us — over and over again?

Put Your Patients in Control

Empowered by technology, patients today like things on their own terms. When you involve them in their treatment decisions, they are more likely to be satisfied, loyal, and proactive about their oral health. The same applies to topics like appointment flexibility (ideally with patient self-service options), instant access to their treatment and financial records, and the convenience of online payments and access to payment plans with auto-pay.

Education & Communication

Informing patients about their oral health, treatment options, and explaining procedures in simple terms can go a long way in making them feel in control. During dental appointments, take the time to educate patients about their conditions, prevention strategies, and all available treatment alternatives. Encourage questions and active participation in treatment decision-making. When patients understand the risks, benefits, and potential outcomes of different options, they can make informed choices that align with their needs and preferences.

Alternate Treatment Plans

Every patient is unique, and you can enhance patient satisfaction by offering custom alternate treatment plans. Present patients with multiple treatment options tailored to their specific needs, preferences, and budget; practices can empower patients to make informed decisions about their oral health. With immediate access to online resources, patients today are more informed than ever before.

Visual aids such as 3D imaging or intraoral cameras can help them visualize their oral health conditions, facilitating their understanding and involvement. When presenting patients with alternate treatment plans, they can actively participate in determining the most suitable approach for their unique needs. They will also feel like you are focused on their needs instead of recommending the most expensive treatment option (even if it is the best option).

Modern practice management software platforms, like Visual Practice, allow you to define and capture as many alternate treatment plans for each case as you need, including the total estimated cost and all the critical steps and procedures for each. Additionally, you can convert any existing treatment plan into a template that you can use to create future treatment plans for other similar cases or patients.

Transparent Financials & Payment Options

Money can be a touchy subject when it comes to dental treatments. Patients often have concerns about the costs involved, and it’s important to address this head-on. Provide patients with detailed information about the costs of their treatment options. Break it down for them and explain any payment plans, insurance coverage, or available financing options. By openly discussing costs and offering flexible payment solutions, you empower patients to make well-informed choices that fit their budget. They feel more in control of their investment in oral health, and you’re able to build trust and strengthen the patient-practice relationship.

By implementing payment plans and/or flexible financial contracts, you can help patients spread out the cost of their treatments according to their specific needs. With transparent and flexible payment options, you are ensuring that financial constraints don’t become a barrier to optimal oral health and patient retention.

Many dental practice management platforms have financial features to aid in this. Visual Practice has an Auto-pay feature for installment contracts and allows you to accept and record cash, check, ACH, or card payments. By providing transparent and flexible payment options, practices can ensure that financial constraints do not become a barrier to optimal oral health and patient retention.

Convenient Scheduling & Access

Convenience is key in today’s fast-paced world, but you already know that. Offer easy scheduling solutions to improve patient satisfaction and retention. Online appointment scheduling tools allow patients to book appointments at their convenience, minimizing the need for time-consuming phone calls, optimizing appointment slots, and reducing scheduling conflicts.

You can also provide convenience beyond just scheduling with a patient portal. Providing patients with secure access to their dental records, treatment plans, and appointment history through online patient portals can greatly enhance their sense of control. Secure patient portals allow patients to easily access their information, review treatment recommendations, and request appointments or prescription refills, putting the patients in control.

Keep In Contact

Maintaining open lines of communication with patients beyond their initial treatment is essential in putting them in control. Implementing a system for post-treatment follow-ups and continuing care reminders ensures that patients are actively involved in their health maintenance. By scheduling regular check-ups and providing reminders for preventive care appointments, you empower patients to stay on top of their dental health and take proactive steps toward avoiding future problems.

A modern dental practice management platform can help you keep the line of communication with the patient open easily. Visual Practice allows you to gather insights, patient preferences, and behaviors and leverage this data to personalize communication and messaging. Practices can enhance patient engagement and loyalty by understanding patient needs and sending targeted and relevant information, such as reminders for preventive care appointments or educational materials specific to their oral health concerns.


Improving patient retention is essential for the long-term success of any dental practice. Fostering a collaborative approach that prioritizes patient autonomy not only strengthens the trust and bond between dental professionals and patients, but also leads to better outcomes, happier patients, and increased patient retention.

Every patient wants to feel like they are the most important and highest priority, and by using this approach, you can create that feeling for all your patients. If you leverage technology and implement efficient practice management solutions with platforms, like Visual Practice, you can streamline and automate many of these processes to ultimately enhance patient engagement, goodwill, and loyalty – with little or no effort on your part!

Picture of Victoria Parker

Victoria Parker

Marketing Manager @Visual Practice: Integration. Automation. Simplicity. “Voted best specialty dental + orthodontic software for new and expanding practices”

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