Top-10 Reasons Why Patients Switch Dentists

We analyzed a random sample of 400 new dental patients who, in their new patient questionnaire, had indicated that they had a prior dental relationship. These patients were then asked why they had switched dentists.

Patient questionnaire results were aggregated and de-identified.

Here are the most commonly cited reasons for switching:

  1. Patient moved – 30%
  2. Change in insurance – 12%
  3. Inconvenient location – 8%
  4. Dentist retired, passed away or moved – 7%
  5. Painful experience and/or loss of confidence in dentist’s skills or knowledge – 7%
  6. Fees too high and/or billing surprises and disputes – 7%
  7. Disagreement with treatment philosophy or treatment plan – 6%
  8. Inconvenient hours or appointment times – 4%
  9. Dentist did not care about me as a person – 3%
  10. Prior dentist did not do procedures in-house that were needed – 3%
    Other – 12%

“Other” responses included patients outgrowing their pediatric dentist, family member switching or recommending another dentist, dissatisfaction with hygienist or another office staff member.

When we remove items that are arguably “non-controllable” by practices – such as patient moving, inconvenient location, or dentist dying/retiring – and ignore the “other” category, we get the following results:

  1. Change in insurance – 28%
  2. Painful experience and/or loss of confidence in dentist’s skills or knowledge – 17%
  3. Fees too high and/or billing surprises and disputes – 17%
  4. Disagreement with treatment philosophy or treatment plan – 14%
  5. Inconvenient hours or appointment times – 9%
  6. Dentist did not care about me as a person – 8%
  7. Prior dentist did not do procedures in-house that were needed – 7%

So, here are some key takeaways if you want to keep more of your patients:

  • Be sensitive to the patient’s financial situation and ensure buy-in on the treatment plan and your treatment philosophy
  • Be in their insurance network
  • Avoid painful treatment experiences and maintain high level of clinical skills (and make sure that you are able to project this high level of knowledge and skill to your patients)

and of course, staying alive and staying in business also helps a fair bit. 🙂

Last Updated: 8/31/16

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