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Three Best Practices for Building Relationships with Patients

Dr. Spooner, PDS®-supported owner dentist and PDS Institute® faculty member, authored the article, “The power in a question: What can I do for you today?,” which was published in the winter issue of the New Dentist magazine.  In this article, Dr. Spooner discusses three best practices that will help dentists build relationships with their patients and increase production, retention, and referrals.


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After learning the ins-and-outs of Clinical Excellence as a PDS-supported Associate Dentist, Dr. Spooner decided to pursue ownership. She says that “owning my own business shifted my thinking toward incorporating both quality dentistry and quality customer service. Being a good dentist is not enough; being the dentist people trust and have a connection with is the key to long-term success”. With several years of experience under her belt, Dr. Spooner shares her three best practices:

Understand and honor the patient’s request. Here, she notes the importance of “not treating every patient with the same protocol [because] they will feel like they are on an assembly line”. Recognizing each and every patients’ needs, fears, and goals allows you to be able to build the foundation for relationships.

Focus on the patient’s chief concern. While informing the patient about the harm that delaying treatment can cause to overall health is vital, it is equally as important to prioritize treatment according to the patient’s chief concern. While every treatment recommendation should be documented in the initial visit, it does not necessarily mean the “five crowns, scaling and root planing, and oral surgery” should all be performed right then and there; building this trust encourages patients to come back and get the treatment completed over time.

Set proper expectations. By setting proper expectations, such as length of procedure and specific treatment plan details, you are able to “appear more competent, while building rapport with patients”.


Spooner, Ashley. “The Power in a Question: What Can I Do For You Today?” The New Dentist Winter 2015: 35. Online.

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About Katie Leonard

Katie Leonard is the Talent Acquisition Marketing Coordinator at Pacific Dental Services. She graduated from Chapman University, where she studied psychology and business administration. She's a big fan of marketing, soccer, anything considered "dessert," and a clean desk.