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The most common reasons patients delay treatment

An Oral Surgery patient reviewing if their treatment plan is necessary

Understanding why patients delay treatment is key to getting them the care they need. Here are five most common factors holding your patients back from scheduling dental treatment.


Even patients with good insurance may delay treatment due to out-of-pocket costs, and some patients who can afford the care are hesitant simply because they’d prefer to spend that money elsewhere. While offering a variety of financing options is part of the solution, helping patients better understand the benefits of treatment, and why they need it, can be a more effective approach.

Too busy

A lack of time is a common reason patients don’t schedule an appointment. One solution is to have patients commit to a treatment date while in your office. Don’t be pushy, but be sure that your front office team makes a concerted effort to get patients on the schedule before they walk out the door.

Dental anxiety

Going to the dentist can be very stressful for some patients. Read our post on Strategies for Managing Dental Anxiety for tips on helping patients through their challenges.

Planning around insurance benefits

Delaying treatment until after insurance benefits reset is a common strategy. Outside of emergencies, the best strategy is to help patients with this process by planning treatments in such a way to best take advantage of their plan. This is where a talented insurance specialist comes in handy, as understanding each patient’s benefits ahead of time makes it easier to map out their annual appointments and treatment dates.

Perceived need for treatment

A gap can exist between how patients view their need for treatment and how this need is presented by their dentist. The use of visuals during case presentations can help highlight the need to remedy the problem.