How to build trust with patients you inherit from another dentist

A happy patient speaking with his dental team

Whether you’ve purchased a practice from a retiring dentist or are taking over from an associate, inheriting new patients can be an exciting and challenging proposition.

Understand what you’re stepping into

Put yourself in the shoes of your new patients. Many could have been seeing their old dentist for years or decades. You’re a new face. This can be intimidating for someone who hasn’t had to switch dentists for a very long time. Don’t expect them to warm up to you straight away. Building rapport takes time.

The power of reflective listening

Just like any other new patient, take a few minutes during your first appointment to gather information about the patient’s motivators. Ask open-ended questions. Listen. Then summarize to show you understand. Ask about their experience with the dentist you’re replacing in a way that gathers the facts without speaking negatively about their previous doctor. Invest time, in the beginning, to really find out what’s important to that patient.

Begin to establish trust

Your goal should be to introduce patients to a standard of excellence they may or may not have been receiving in the past. One of the most successful strategies for doing this is to ask permission to share your honest thoughts on the patient’s oral health situation. Explain that dentistry moves fast and that as things change, it can be helpful to have a new pair of eyes examine your mouth and teeth.

Lean on new technology

Introducing new technology is a good way to make change objective instead of subjective. By educating patients on the benefits of technological advancements, you can position this change as a change for the better.

Focus on co-discovery

Bring the patient along on the journey as you get to know their oral health needs. Tell them what you’re doing and why. Walk them through your processes and explain the benefits of why you do what you do along the way. Patients want to trust you. They want to build the same connection with you that they had with their previous doctor.