Patients’ Top 5 Reasons to Cancel Dentist Appointments

Patients have several reasons to cancel dentist appointments. Unfortunately, dental cancellations and no-shows are a part of every dental practice. While there is no way to eliminate them entirely, understanding cancellation issues and practical strategies to combat them can reduce their occurrence in your dental practice.

Dental Intelligence


January 6, 2023

Your practice exerts a substantial amount of resources in scheduling appointment times and dental procedures for your patients. Cancellations are a drain on your resources. Ensure that your dental practice is taking advantage of all of the strategies to reduce cancellations, including using dental appointment reminder software by Dental Intelligence.

Read on to learn about the most common reasons patients cancel their dental appointments and the practical strategies you can use to minimize them. 

1. Patients are Afraid of Dental Appointments

It is no secret that dental appointments evoke fear in many. They can be painful and intimidating. Helping patients overcome this fear is critical.

Do not be afraid to speak to your patients about any apprehension they may be feeling. Simply validating your patients’ fears will go a long way toward minimizing fear. In addition, make sure you take extra time with these patients and explain what is involved and why it is beneficial to them long-term. 

2. New Patients Lack Familiarity

New patients may call to make an appointment for many different reasons. However, since the two of you have little familiarity before their first appointment, it is easier for them mentally to cancel or be a no-show. Your practice must confront this propensity of new patients because they help your practice grow exponentially through referrals to family and friends. 

Your practice should have a particular protocol for rapport-building during the initial communication. For example, taking a few extra minutes on the phone to connect with a new patient can improve the probability that the patient will not cancel. 

Additionally, it would be best if you attempted to schedule new patients as quickly as possible. Fresh off a phone call that established some familiarity, the patient should be in the office within the next two days for their first appointment. With these two steps, your patient will find your practice friendly and efficient. As a result, they will be more likely to keep their appointment.  

3. Your Policies Allow Guilt-Free Cancellations

Knowing that cancellations and no-shows are a part of any dental practice means you need well-established policies concerning cancellation issues. Make sure your practice has covered the following matters in its cancelation policies:

Your staff must explain these policies to the patient so that they understand the expectations. Moreover, you have to have an efficient system to track cancellations and follow through on your rules. Dental practices with a cancellation policy in place that they have thoroughly explained to patients results in fewer cancellations. These policies will give your patients fewer reasons to cancel dentist appointments. 

4. Patients Aren’t Being Reminded of Their Appointments and/or Confirming Them

Sometimes people simply forget appointments. Your practice must use reminders and confirmations to limit these preventable no-shows or late cancellations. However, even if you send reminders and confirm appointments, your process may need to be more effective. 

The first thing you should do is review your data. Determine what your cancellation rate is for customers that received reminders and confirmed their appointments. If it is higher than expected, reconsider your current approach and suitable alternatives — for example, implementing automatic appointment reminders. 

5. Patients Do Not Know The Importance of Hygiene

Part of any successful dental practice is to educate your patients. If you tell your patients to return in three months for another procedure, they are more likely to cancel because they may not understand its importance to their overall health. 

Create a comprehensive treatment plan for your patients, and set goals. Explain the importance of each procedure from a health perspective. This will encourage a more significant commitment to the plan by your patients and help them understand the tangible benefits of keeping appointments. 

Your dental practice needs to adapt to the reality of patient cancellations. While you cannot prevent all cancellations, you should direct a great deal of effort into minimizing them. 

Implement New Strategies

Knowing patients' top five reasons to cancel dentist appointments is half the battle. Now you must implement strategies to minimize cancellations. Start by reaching out to our team at Dental Intelligence to learn how our software can minimize cancellations. Then you can learn how to write a dental appointment reminder email.

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