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  • Denise Ciardello

How do you pamper your patients?

The contracts are terminated and you are now fully released from under the control of insurance companies. Woo-hoo! It’s time to sit back and let all the money roll in based on YOUR fees and not ‘only what insurance pays’. Right? Not necessarily. It’s time to think back, and for some it's WAY back ☺, to the beginning of your practice. How did you acquire and retain patients when you first began? You were so excited to have every new patient that walked in the door that you treated them like GOLD. You coddled and truly let them know how much you appreciated that they crossed your threshold. Are you still doing that?

The first thing, of course, is always to provide excellent patient care - give them the best, most comfortable treatment. Explain all the wonderful technology that you use to provide this exceptional care. By taking steps to make patients more comfortable, dentists can provide a better overall experience and improve their reputation in the community. Creating a positive atmosphere can go a long way in reducing dental anxiety and making patients feel more comfortable during their visit. This should be the easiest thing to implement: include please and thank you to not only patients, AND also with each other.

Then there is the ‘how do you make the patient feel’ beyond treatment, aspect of the visit. My strongest suggestion is to answer the phone. Sounds crazy, however, I’ve watched teams just let the phone ring - ‘the machine will get it’. Do you realize that 50% of new patients are lost because the phone wasn’t answered by a live person? Nothing in this article will make a difference until you change that one thing.

Here are some other ideas to going one step further to give your patients an exceptional patient experience:

  • Blankets – let’s face it, dental offices are cold; this is evident by the thermostat wars between team members.  Additionally, the office often feels” sterile” so I nice warm blanket might give your patients that comfortable feeling to get them through their dental appointment. This may sound like a crazy idea; however, I see patients offered a blanket as they are escorted to the operatory; even big, burly men will accept the offer. 

How to implement? If you have a washer/dryer in the office, go to Walmart, BigLots, or Target and get a dozen warm, soft, cheap throws. They are often on sale. Don’t have a W/D in the office? We have an office that gives the brand-new blanket to the patient –monogramed with office logo. They inform the patient that it is theirs to keep. And suggest that the patient bring it back anytime they come back.

  • Noise-cancelling headphones transform your patient from a time of anxiousness to mindlessly wrapped into a podcast or their favorite Taylor Swift song about a love lost.

How to implement? Jump on Amazon, or go to above listed stores for the best deals. Take into account ways to keep them sterile – plastic covers that are changed out between patients. Easy and cheap, ask patients to bring their own headphones or earbuds and let them tap into their own device.

  • Essential Oils to relax are helpful for anxiety and calming. Fresh scents and comfortable atmosphere are a must if patients are going to enjoy their visit. Everyone won’t find this necessary, yet it’s nice option to offer.

How to implement? Educate yourself and your team on the advantages of the oils; you probably have a patient that is an Essential Oils expert. You can find these products on Amazon, Bath & Body Works and even in local grocery stores.

  • Educate patients on proper oral hygiene practices and products - I know that this seems like a given, however, it is the delivery. I went into an office that began using Coco Floss. The enthusiasm over this product was so contagious that I had to get some for myself.

How to implement? What do you use in your office? Why did you choose this product over another? Make sure your team is aware of the benefits of Tooth & Gum Tonic vs Stella Life vs Periodex? Lunch and learns are awesome for training the team on dental products.

  • Membership plans are a great benefit to your patients that do not have insurance. It has been determined that patients are more likely to seek dental treatment when they have a benefit plan in place, whether it is through an insurance company or an in-office dental plan. The point is to retain patients, and what is a better way to do this than to offer a membership to them? Amazon, Costco and Sam’s do it; why shouldn’t a dental office?

How to implement? Calculate a fixed amount that the patient will pay each month/year; determine which services are included with that fee then decide the percentage discount you will give to other covered procedures; don’t forget about exclusions - Invisalign? Implants? This is your plan. Finally, you can manage this process yourself or have a company help to maintain it for you.

  • Insurance processing is still going to be a method of payment for most offices. Make things easier for the patients by helping them understand their coverage and benefits. Offer to send their claims to the insurance companies, making sure that the patient gets the check, if the treatment has been paid in full.

How to implement? Gather the insurance information, letting the patient know that you will file their claim, as a courtesy. Make sure that the Assignment of Benefits is unchecked, which allows for the check to go to the patient. 

  • Specialists help your patients with procedures that you do not perform in your practice; oral surgery, root canals, extractions, implants, etc. When referring your patient to one of these specialists it can be a frightful idea for the patient. Offer more than a business card when making a referral. Tell the patient about this new office/doctor(s).

How to implement? Call the specialist for your patient and make that consultation appointment for them. This will ensure that the other office has all the information ahead of the appointment for verification and confirmation purposes. It also will ensure that the patient follows through with the treatment. You may have other treatment that is waiting on that treatment to get completed. This is a win-win for all.

  • Medical Provider information is typically given to the office on the patient intake form. Are there times when you feel their primary care physician should be aware that this patient’s blood pressure has been elevated the past 2 visits? You have informed the patient, but do they do anything about it? Even if everything is fine, letting the PC know about the visit would help close the circle of medical and dental.

How to implement? Just as you inform the Oral Surgeon when a patient has an impacted wisdom tooth, you could send a referral to the patient’s PC to inform them that their patient was in the office for a routine checkup. 

Many patients are still of the mindset that they have to go to the dentist that is in network with their insurance company. That idea is constantly being driven home by said insurance companies that inform them of the savings in doing so. 

When you are in-network with an insurance company, you pay them up to 40% of your production/collections by accepting reduced fees. Now that you are out of contract, take 10% and spend it on pampering your patients with some of the things mentioned above. What do you do to let your patients know that you appreciate them choosing you? We would love to hear your perks for your patients.


Denise Ciardello, Consultant

Denise is co-founder of Global Team Solutions. A professional speaker and published author, her enthusiasm and knowledge about the dental profession has helped many dental teams. She brings experience, insight, and creativity into her management style, along with a sense of humor. In a profession that can cause anxiety in some dental employees.

Denise’s consulting approach is to partner with doctors and team members to help them realize the dream of creating a thriving, successful practice.

Denise can be reached at:

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