What patients look for in a dentist

After seeing the same dentist for more than 20 years, you relocate and suddenly find yourself searching for a new dentist. This all-too-common experience can be a daunting one, especially when you consider the trust relationship that patients have with their dentist, and the anxiety that a dental appointment causes for some patients. Because of the unique nature of the dentist-patient relationship, researchers have studied what patients are looking for in a dentist. What follows is a list of what patients value most in a dental experience.

Upfront and honest discussion of fees

For many patients the cost of dental care can create as much anxiety as the care itself. Patients appreciate knowing ahead of time what their treatment will cost, and about insurance coverage and payment plans.

Not feeling rushed

Patients value a dentist who takes time to discuss options before treatment begins, and who takes time to ensure patient comfort. Even more important is a dentist who is a good listener and takes time to understand their patients’ concerns.


Nothing is more agitating than having a dental problem and having to wait two weeks to see the dentist. Patients place high emphasis on the ability to have dental emergencies attended to promptly.

They also care about being able to schedule routine appointments at times that are convenient for them, such as early mornings, evenings and Saturdays. Surveyed patients also often mention other convenience factors such as parking and ground-floor access.

Quality and gentleness of care

Research studies indicate that 50 per cent of people avoid or delay dental care because they are fearful or have had a bad dental experience in the past. Patients want to know that both the dentist and his or her team are sensitive to patient anxiety and are trained to deal with it.

They also appreciate a team that spends time with patients to put them at ease, and a dentist who offers sedation and other techniques to enhance patient comfort.

Proven track record

Most patients want a dentist who has knowledge and experience, and also has an experienced and welcoming team. They want to know that their dentist is up-to-date and using current technology and techniques.

This is why most patients seek a word-of-mouth referral from a friend or family member when searching for a new dentist.

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