As is true in life and business, the first impression is often the most important. A first meeting with a new dental patient can make or break a relationship. It is a chance for you to gain trust, which is crucial for developing a long-term relationship.

First impressions are a chance for you to gain trust, which is crucial for developing long-term relationships.
First impressions are a chance for you to gain trust, which is crucial for developing long-term relationships.

Your New Dental Patient

The first call is an opportunity to demonstrate your team's expertise, knowledge, and professionalism. The person who answers the phone should be well trained in gathering this data with open-ended questions and being able to exude confidence that your patient made the right choice in calling your office. It is essential to be prepared and know what you want to convey to your potential patient. This includes having a clear understanding of their needs and concerns, and being able to articulate how your office can meet those needs. 

The first meeting is an opportunity to establish a rapport with your patient.  Building a personal connection is equally as important as demonstrating your expertise. People are more likely to do business with people they like and trust. Therefore, it is important to be friendly, approachable, and genuinely interested in the patient and their concerns.

Setting Expectations

The first meeting is also an opportunity to set expectations for the future relationship. Be clear about what you can deliver and what the patient can expect from you and your team.

Honesty and transparency are key to building trust, so be upfront about any limitations or challenges that may arise.  

Over the years I have collected a library of photographed cases available to address any of the concerns stated by the patient. With my new patient's permission, I would share before and after pictures of those cases.  This interaction and discussion usually will lead to many questions, most notably, " Could I look like that?"  I also asked if they would like a copy of the pictures. I have them available to print and add personal notes on the pictures to customize.

Many times, patients have dental problems but do not know enough to communicate their real needs.  Once you develop trust there will be an opportunity to share what you see.  Many times, patients will ask for care once they see what you see and appreciate the value of comprehensive care.

New Dental Patient: Following Up

Finally, it is important to follow up after the first meeting. Send a thank-you note (my preference) or email and reiterate your commitment to working with them. If you did use photographs in the discussion, I would add them to the correspondence. This shows that you are invested in the relationship and are willing to put in the effort to make it work. 

The importance of a first meeting with a new dental patient cannot be overstated.  The entire team needs to be on board. It is an opportunity to gain the trust of your potential long-term patient and valuable referral source.  It is an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and professionalism, build a personal connection, set expectations, and establish the foundation for an enjoyable and fun relationship. By being prepared, approachable, transparent, and following up, you can increase your chances of developing a successful relationship.

Good luck on your journey!

Carl E. Steinberg, D.D.S., M.A.G.D., L.L.S.R. ( is a member of Spear Visiting Faculty and a contributor to Spear Digest.