You provide the best orthodontic treatment, but sometimes that’s not enough to get prospective patients to trust you—and that trust is key to that new patient start.

By Satish Pai, DDS, MS, MDS

Trust—specifically your orthodontic patients trust in you—can be the key to turning that new patient consult into a new patient start. 

When a patient hesitates to commit to orthodontic treatment, it can be concerning. We want our patients to be as serious about their dental health as we are. We know the benefits they will reap from orthodontic treatment. But sometimes there is something holding them back from saying ‘yes’ to treatment. 

But is there something we can do about this? Yes, there is. 

There is no doubt you are providing the best orthodontic treatment in your state-of-the-art orthodontic clinic. That’s a given. But are you making the effort to tap into the concerns, doubts, and needs of your patients? Are you making an effort to build their trust in you to be the one to provide their orthodontic care? 

This isn’t just about making sure they understand the proposed treatment. This is about making sure they are comfortable with you, their doctor. Once you have their trust, you will guarantee their commitment to orthodontic treatment. 

So how do you do this? How do you build a prospective orthodontic patient’s trust in you? It call comes down to communication. 

Here are six strategies to build trust with new orthodontic patients and secure that start.

1. Provide Information Beforehand to Start Building Trust

Patients are sometimes confused and not confident enough to ask questions. So it will be helpful to discuss what you will assess and how before you start the orthodontic exam. This will give your patients confidence to ask more questions and be comfortable with you.

For example, if you are checking them for overlapping teeth, you can tell them, “Now I am going to measure the size of your upper and lower jaw and check for extra teeth or other possible causes for your overlapping teeth.”

2. Communicate to Your Prospective Orthodontic Patients with Clarity

If your patient has a serious orthodontic issue, there’s no need to sugar-coat it. Tell them about their case as it is in reality. Make sure your patient is sitting in front of you in an attentive yet comfortable position at the time of communication.

It’s best to use visual aids like a periodontal chart to help explain the issue or concern to your patient. However you do it, be straightforward when you explain your observations and when you propose treatment options.

3. Explain Orthodontic Treatment in Steps

Don’t rush to explain the treatment. Explain the condition in detail to your patient, then raise the associated current and future health risks. For example, “You have overlapping teeth. If this condition is not treated on time, it will keep affecting your looks and bite.”

At this stage, a pause is recommended to allow the patient to ask questions.

Once you have their full attention, explain the treatment options in detail, along with their cost and financing or insurance options. Clearly explain the distinction between different treatment options.

4. Listen to Your Patients to Understand Them

Crucial to any orthodontic consultation, according to the research: listening and understanding. If you listen to your patients, you can understand their priorities and needs. This can provide considerable support to your consultation and building their trust.

For example, a patient who is very conscious of their looks would be more interested in knowing the aesthetic benefits of treatment. Similarly, health-conscious patients will value a consultation that educates them about the health hazards associated with their orthodontic condition. So first, understand what your patient wants; then explain their treatment accordingly.

5. Maintain Cost Transparency to Build Trust

It’s no secret that the cost of a dental or orthodontic treatment scares consumers. You can find many people who are avoiding orthodontic treatment they know they need due to cost alone. What’s more, they’re also concerned that there will be surprises along the way—additional costs that show up on the bill after an appointment.

Be clear and precise with your patients while discussing costs with them. Show them all pocket-friendly options like insurance, third-party financing, membership discounts, etc, to help them pay for treatment. In this way, you can help give them some financial control and they will appreciate the help.

6. Make Your Patient Feel Valued to Continue Building Trust

In today’s competitive field of orthodontics, you should be grateful that your patient has trusted you to be the one to provide their orthodontic care. You can show your appreciation verbally or in the form of discounts, gift cards, or a free service to someone receiving extensive treatment.

Another way of showing your appreciation for your orthodontic patient’s trust in you is to be flexible with appointment scheduling, or offer them multiple payment options suitable for every kind of budget.

The saying goes:

“People will forget what you said, but they never forget how you made them feel.”

Building a friendly rapport with your patient, making them feel comfortable, and being warm and empathetic towards them will go a long way. And this goes for your team as well. Make sure they see the person being treated—not just a number.

Using all the given tips here to build your orthodontic patient’s trust in you, you will ensure your patients feel so comfortable coming to you that they never miss an appointment. OP

Satish Pai, DDS, MS, MDS, is an orthodontist and Ivy League trained dentist who has served as a faculty at Columbia University. He believes a perfect smile not only makes a person look great but feel great. As the founder of Putnam Orthodontics and a Partner at Brite Orthodontics, he is dedicated to providing the best orthodontic treatments to his patients. He also writes to educate people about everything orthodontics and the importance of correctly aligned teeth along with good oral health. In his free time, you can find him golfing, doing yoga or surfing, and spending time with this family.

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