The New Patient Dental Exam and How To Make It Rock!

As dentists we are obsessed by getting more new patients and new patient numbers and with good reason…. For our practices to grow we need new clients coming through the doors and into our chairs and be performing more new patient exams.

But before you go spending mega dollars on marketing, referral programs and bringing in new patients there are some factors and foundations that must in place for you to get the most benefit from every enquiry and every new patient booking.

Marketing For New Dental Patients

So many times when I speak with a potential new coaching client I get told all they want is for me to help them with their marketing. What I find is interesting that most dentists don’t really know what they mean by this or what marketing is.

My questions back are designed to get them (you) thinking about what marketing is and what bedrock foundations must be in place for your dental practice to get the most from increasing new patient numbers.

These questions include but are not limited to:

  • Do you know how many new patient enquiries you get every month?
  • What percentage book?
  • How many new patient treatment plans do you present?
  • What is the dollar value of each case?
  • What is your percentage case acceptance?
  • Can your systems and your team handle more new patients?
  • Do you have time in the schedule to fit them in?
  • Do you have a systemised new patient exam process that gives you consistent, predictable results?

Are You Rocking Your New Patient Exam?

Are you offering something that is so wow that patients are impressed with you, your practice, your expertise and the way you make them feel?

If you are not rocking your new patients world then you are wasting opportunities to grow your dental practice and increase profitability and production.

The quality of your new patient exam is crucial; it impacts on so many aspects of your dental business:

  • Long-term patient retention
  • Referrals
  • Case Acceptance
  • Reducing Cancellations and No-Shows
  • Increasing cashflow
  • Practice growth

A high-quality new patient exam that “knock’s a patient’s socks off” and leaves them impressed (with you and your dental office) sets the stage to improving everything I’ve talked about so far.

Get Systemised to Rock Their World

Have a uniform system or process for running your new patient exam. Make it predictable for you and your team. I know every office is different, so it’s important that your plan or system suits you, but with this 5 step framework you will know what to include. But at the end of the day you must have a plan or system!

Then use what you design every new patient to take the new patient experience to the next level.

Don’t worry about getting in perfect first time, this is a process that will need refining and tweaking as you implement and learn from it.

Review it and see what you feel is working, what isn’t and what needs redesigning.

I have spent the last 6 years honing my new patient exam and the more of them I do the more I learn form them so I’m always adjusting aspects of it to see if we can make it better.

[BTW my case acceptance rate went from around 50% to over 85% in a year by putting this into practice and I’m talking cases over $5,000 here not a simple $200 filling].

Rocking The New Patient Exam 5 Step System

Ok so lets get to this simple 5 system – keep the steps in order and do your steps that you design the same way every single time.

The new patient exam should be like any other dental procedure you know what the steps will be and what order they happen in – you wouldn’t start drilling out deep decay without local first or place the filling before all the decay is removed – the new patient exam is the same, it should follow a logical process.

Step 1 – Do a Proper Exam

Your new patient exam must be thorough and comprehensive. Take your time do not rush or cut corners. It’s time to let go of trying to do a 30 minute new patient exam and teeth clean at the same visit.

Step 2 –Rock The Introduction

Patients expect you to make small talk and look at their teeth. How can you make it better than that? How can you show your care and interest in them? By asking questions and getting to the know them. The questions you ask should help you quickly understand their dental health, experiences and expectations.

Come up with 5 questions to ask every new patient. The questions should:

  1. – Give you information about why they are here,
  2. – Tell you what dental concerns they have
  3. – Show you what their past dental experiences and checkups have been like,
  4. – Give you an idea of what they hope to achieve for their oral health and smile long term,
  5. – Provide answers about what they are looking for in a dentist.

Step 3 – Rock Their World

If anything comes up from the steps above, work to handle any of their concerns.

Just make sure that you listen well and do whatever you can to handle things as they come up.

The way to rock their world is to let the patient know you have heard them and that their concerns have been addressed.

This only takes a few minutes and is a great time investment. Plus is has more purpose than learning about their hobbies or names of their 12 grandkids (let your team find that sort of information out).

Step 4 – Ask

Before you stick your hands in someone’s mouth ask first! Tell the patient what you will be doing today and as you get started ask if it is okay to lean back in the chair and have a look around start.

“Today I am going to do a full check and assessment of your mouth, teeth and gums. I will look for any abnormalities, lumps or bumps, red or white patches; I’ll check your jaw joints and bite. Then I’ll check for any dental issues, I’ll explain what I’m doing and why as we go and why and if there is anything I need to show you I will take pictures so you will be able to see what I see. Is that ok?”

Then use your manners – say please and thank you when asking the patient to do something. And make sure you use their name too “ Tom, turn your head to the left slightly please, thank you.”

This may seem super basic and obvious but believe me it makes such a great impression and will put you head and shoulders above what people have become used to. This will give the patient an experience that rocks their world in a good way.

Step 5- Respect Time and Be Efficient

Respect your patient’s time – they do not want to be at your office for 2 hours. Respect your time do the exam in a structured manner to increase efficiency.

It’s up to you what order you do things in and what you want to check or say. But do it the same way every time and do it in a way that does not waste time. You don’t want to be sitting your patient up and lying them back 5 times during the exam.

You might want to start by checking and charting their teeth, the gums, doing oral cancer check, then a TMJ assessment and then get photos and x-rays.

Say what you see in simple plain English and use words that are not going to terrify the patient, have your assistant write it down or put it directly in the chart. Then say what treatment is needed and have it entered on your new patient form or in the chart.

Then you can show your patient what is happening and present the treatment requirements.

By applying a 5 steps new patient exam process, you will take new patient exam to a new level. One that provides a time efficient and a rocking experience! One that has your patients saying wow Dr so and so was so thorough. I’ve never had a check up like that before!!

Boom you are a rock star dentist and that new patient is now more likely to accept your treatment and recommend your practice.

For more details on this process and how to present your findings and the plan in a way that skyrockets your case acceptance reach out to me for more information. (