Are You Making These Common Dental Patient Communication Mistakes?

Dental patient communication mistakes can hurt patient retention and profitability. Learn the most common communication errors your practice could be making and how to improve patient communications.

Dental Intelligence


February 14, 2023

Effective dental patient communication is one of the most important skills you can have as a dentist. While effective communication is important for reasons like patient experience and the success of your practice, it also impacts the level of care and treatment you offer your patients.

However, the obstacles in your path that can hinder dental patient communication aren’t always easy to see and avoid. Below, we’ll talk about the most common mistakes many dentists make when speaking with their patients and why it’s so important to keep those lines of communication open.

The Top 4 Patient Communication Mistakes Made by Dentists

Did you know that 30% of all medical malpractice claims1 result from communication breakdowns? For dental practices and the professionals who work there, knowing how to speak to their patients and their staff is integral to ensuring a safe environment and happy patients.

Below are the four most common dental patient communication errors.

1. Breakdowns in Scheduling

Miscommunications in patient scheduling are common in the dental industry. For example, if patients show up late or not at all, or if another procedure takes longer than you initially thought, it can impact your entire dental schedule. Not only does it make it harder to practice efficiently, but it can waste patients' time. 

To avoid this issue, try using our Online Scheduling and Team Chat features we offer here at Dental Intelligence. With automated appointment reminders and virtual check-ins, scheduling breakdowns will become a thing of the past.  

2. Failure to Explain Treatment Plans Thoroughly

Another breakdown in communication between the dentist and patient occurs during the discussion of the patient’s condition and treatment plan. If your patient can’t understand their condition or how to manage it at home, they’re not going to make much progress towards becoming healthy again.

To prevent this problem, ensure that you speak with patients in a slow voice and use easily understandable language. Avoid using too much dental industry jargon that can complicate the discussion. Stick to the main points and avoid going on tangents. Another option is using treatment plan templates so patients can easily review their recommended treatment. 

3. Disagreeing or Interrupting Patients

We know that while most patients are pleasant and professional, some can become angry, frustrated, or hostile. However, it’s critical to avoid interrupting or disagreeing with patients during these situations. If a patient has a request and you refuse to comply, it’s sending the message that you don’t value or respect them.

Interrupting is also taboo. Nobody likes it when they’re speaking, and someone interrupts them, and it’s a trait that can make you seem unlikeable, arrogant, or unfocused. Instead, just wait for the patient to finish first before you speak. If you need to, take notes to help remind you of the point you want to discuss.

4. Treating Patients Like Numbers Instead of People

Your dental practice is, first and foremost, a business. Yes, you’re in the business of helping people, but not for free — you need to profit from your services so you can afford to live, just like everyone else.

While it’s always good to view your dental practice analytically to discover issues where you could improve efficiency to cut costs, remember that your patients are more than just numbers. They’re human beings, many of whom have anxiety about going to the dentist and can feel upset or overwhelmed once they’re in your chair. Your chairside manner should be professional and friendly yet firm, and don’t forget that a smile goes a long way!

Contact Dental Intelligence Today

Patient communication is one of the key factors in every successful dental practice. At Dental Intelligence, we know how easy it can be for small communication breakdowns to have a big impact on your dental practice and bottom line. We offer cutting-edge software solutions and resources for dental professionals. Schedule a free demo with us today to see our advanced solutions.


1 PR Newswire

Practice Smarter.™

Schedule a demo and start intelligently shaping the future of your practice today.

Get a Demo
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Get a Demo