David Hudnall

By David Hudnall, DMD


Providing an exceptional patient experience is critical when it comes to how to run a dental practice. As the old adage says, “People will not remember what you did for them, but rather how you made them feel.” How you manage your dental office and treat people speaks volumes and leaves lasting impressions on patients, significantly impacts your patient retention rates, and affects your financial success.

Let’s talk about how to run a dental practice successfully by putting patients first.

Resources for Establishing and Running a Dental Practice

For new practice owners, there is a wealth of information regarding establishing and running a dental practice available from the American Dental Association, online resources, and dental marketing firms. The first step is to accept that your practice is unique – from its geographic location to your office hours and service offerings.

In order to establish your practice and distinguish it from the rest of the providers in your area, it’s important to identify what makes your practice different and capitalize on those features for a competitive edge.

Your distinct perspective on dental care will attract like-minded individuals who are likely to become part of a family of long-term patients. This leads to more patient referrals and a thriving dental business.

Key Aspects of a Successful Dental Practice

When it comes to how to run a dental practice, all of the high-tech equipment and excellent dental skills in the world are no substitute for the human interactions that take place. Here are some important aspects to consider:

Set Up Your Practice

Setting up your practice is not solely about the facility or equipment. It’s also about the people that you hire to work for you. Hiring the right mix of skilled people who excel at the things that you may be deficient at can synergize efforts, making the dental office have all of the best traits that patients seek when looking for a dental office that they can call home.

Equally critical are the systems you put into place designed to address how everything is handled within the practice. That way, a competent staff can productively run all of the office functions without the dentist stepping in to manage by exception. This allows the dentist to focus on what he or she does best – dentistry – while the staff ensures the patients are happy, and the schedule is filled with productive procedures that pay the bills and generate profits.

Develop an Office Culture

It’s the little things that count. The environment and tone set by your office speak volumes about the quality of care that your patients will receive. If the office is warm and welcoming, patients’ fears about dental care are lessened or alleviated. Calm patients make the delivery of services and the interaction with your staff much easier and more pleasant.

Many practice owners forget to frequently walk through the front door of their dental offices with a critical eye, looking for things that present as obstacles to a great patient experience – the kind of experience that they will tell their friends and family members about. For most patients, what they see in the reception area is an indicator of the condition and sanitation present in the remainder of the office.

More important than how to run a dental practice are the interpersonal interactions that you and your dental team have with one another. Have you ever been to a business where dissatisfaction between the workers was palpable? Did you feel valued as a client or comfortable being there? The culture of your office is already present, whether you realize it or not. It is displayed by:

  • your personality
  • your leadership skills
  • the values, systems, and behaviors employed during interactions
  • your expectations
  • your ability to trust your staff members to take ownership of their position
  • the communication style between the staff members, doctor, and patients

It’s a proven fact that workers perform at a higher level when they feel valued and they are tasked with taking ownership of the things within their control. When everyone understands how they fit into the organization and its long-term goals, it becomes enjoyable to come to work, and the day flies by. Everyone will be happier, your patients will notice it, and your dental clinic will thrive.

Expand Your Expertise

The truth is patients who are satisfied with your practice trust your abilities and don’t want to go elsewhere for dental treatment. Without additional training beyond dental school, you’ll never be able to provide competent care in all of the areas that your patients require. There are too many dentists who provide average treatment.

Separate yourself by learning how to run a dental practice and deliver quality dentistry that lasts for many years to come. That’s why it is so important to stay up-to-date with the latest technology and evidence-based clinical practices that will allow you to provide more dental care in your own dental practice, keeping the cash flow in-house.

Growing your patient base requires strengthening your position in the community and improving value for your patients. A business owner should start with establishing a good reputation for fair, knowledgeable, and honest advice by providing uncompromised quality care that addresses patient health without over-treating or upselling services to your patients. Doing these things will strengthen word-of-mouth referrals to your office, create loyal clients, and improve the financial bottom line.

Offer Transparent Financing

Your dental practice requires you to provide patients with a wide range of payment options to minimize barriers to receiving treatment. That way, patients will be more inclined to accept treatment recommendations and return for routine care. In addition to welcoming dental insurance, convenient payment options should include debit, credit cards, and cash, plus third-party financing options to ensure that personal financial circumstances don’t interfere with making sound dental health decisions. This will also improve patient satisfaction.

Since insurance benefits and financing sources are based on contracts that can be complex and convoluted, it is important to have a staff member present with intimate knowledge of financing options which can offer creative solutions or combine resources to ensure that patients receive the care that they need.

Automate Whenever Possible

Automation is not a bad thing. With any new technology, there is always an initial investment and a learning curve in order to incorporate the new technology into your practice. Professionals may have had difficult experiences with dental practice management software in the past. However, automation, once adopted, has the ability to provide enhanced patient comfort, improve understanding of the treatment rationale, and save valuable time, allowing dental practices to accomplish more with less stress.

One example of office automation is the incorporation of an intraoral scanner into your practice. This device can be utilized as a patient education tool to improve patient comfort while taking impressions, to streamline the workflow between your office and the dental laboratory, and to reduce impression errors, which allows you to deliver a prosthesis in less time with fewer adjustments.

Develop Partnerships

No matter how well you have been trained, no one excels at everything. It is important to understand your own limitations, strengths, and weaknesses and when your patients would be better served by a specialist who can provide therapy beyond your capabilities. Cultivate relationships with other professionals whom you can call upon for advice or help when it is most needed. Sometimes, having another set of eyes to look at a case from a different perspective is just the ticket to obtaining ultimate patient satisfaction.

While dental specialists and physicians may be the first people who come to mind when developing referral sources and partnerships, the dental lab that you choose to work with is a direct reflection of your office. No matter how well you perform your part, poor-quality lab work will affect the final outcome and destroy the existing patients’ confidence in your abilities.

This is why it is so important to establish a partnership with a top dental equipment lab that understands your cases and can recommend improved methods for delivering dental appliances and prosthetics that fit accurately with as little patient inconvenience or discomfort as possible.

That’s where Stomadent Dental Lab excels. Stomadent has established a completely digital laboratory workflow, transforming dental practice owners’ digital scans into beautiful restorations of precise dimensions that can be delivered with almost no adjustments, making for faster dental procedures.

Stomadent Dental Lab: The Ideal Partner

When it comes to choosing a dental lab, the ultimate duty is to satisfy your patients. This can only be accomplished by working together toward a mutual goal. Stomadent Dental Lab never loses sight of the end result and will work collaboratively with you to provide the best possible patient care.

Why settle for anything less? See all of the ways that we can be your remote partner by visiting Stomadent online today!

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