How to Transform Your Dental Practice’s Waiting Room

Think about your dental practice’s waiting room or reception area. What is your patient’s experience?

A 2009 survey conducted at New York City outpatient clinics discovered, “…a direct positive correlation between aesthetically-appealing waiting rooms and patient opinions about their doctors’ visits.”

There’s something deeper to patient satisfaction. Tap into it and make sure you communicate it beginning at the front door.

The First Message Your Waiting Room Sends

How cliche is your dental practice waiting room? Your answer has more to do with what it communicates. Dated, worn magazines and uncomfortable furniture communicate a lack of concern and could send a subtle message that lack of quality care could follow.

On the other hand, attention to noticeable details creates an atmosphere that improves your recognized standard of care. Call it environmental excellence.

Susan Spillman confirms, “Patients may not choose your practice based on (your) waiting room but it will affect their memory of their visit. A beautiful waiting roomthat promotes health, wellness, and productivity, is part of the holistic experience that turns patients into loyal customers.”

So how do you create a memorable experience through your waiting room? And an experience that promotes loyalty to you and your dental services?

“The secret is to find out what matters most to your (patients) and give it to them.”You must leap beyond cliche’ to something unexpectedly different.

Consider the following simple ways you can transform your waiting room from cliche to engaging.


Restore Their Time

Like you, your patients are productivity-minded. They schedule their dental appointments around work, social activities, school events, and more.

Time is the common denominator. More specifically, the maximization of time.

Time shouldn’t stand still during a dental office visit. But it should have the sense that it “flies.”

Give them opportunities to use their available time when waiting. Wasted time produces stress. Efficient time usage creates calm.

  • Provide free, one-click Wi-Fi access. This encourages your patients to continue working on a project, browse online, clear their inbox, or update their social media channels without a strong cellular signal.
  • Allow access to lifestyle enhancing resources. Current family friendly magazines and related programming on TV monitor(s) (e.g. HGTV, Food Network, Disney Chammer, Cartoon Network, etc.).
  • Create a user-friendly environment. Provide easy-to-access charging ports or outlets for smartphones, tablets, and handheld gaming devices. Give parents breathing space witha quiet, kid-friendly play, reading, and activity zone.


Lead With Comfort

A comfortable environment produces relaxed patients. And relaxed patients are more likely to respond to recommended treatment.

  • Replace stiff, uncomfortable furniture.
  • Arrange your seating areas in a way that suits a variety of patients. Place chairs around a trendy pub-style table for professionals who can use their wait time for tasks. Provide kid-friendly chairs or soft pallets and floor pillows in a designated kidzone. Include comfortable, cushy chairs for younger patients, and sturdy chairs that provide ease-of-use and stability for senior patients.
  • Enhance relaxation with mood-stimulating music and fresh, non-offensive scents like lavender. Research types, placement, and delivery of essential oils that create a subtle, calming environment.

Deliver Unexpected Extras

Think outside-the-box amenities. Brainstorm “mint-on-the-pillow”-like ideas.

  • Place bowls of dental friendly mints in your reception area (including sanitary scoops and small paper containers for serving).
  • Upgrade to a clear, glass-front mini-fridge. Fill it with bottled water and/or a selection of dental friendly beverages. Provide single serve tea and coffee pods and an easy-to-use brewing system with printed usage instructions displayed (e.g. a Keurig).
  • And of course, offer a complimentary selection of tooth brushes, toothpastes, and mouth washes. This promotes good oral health plus it represents brands/products you recommend (you, your hygienists, and clinical assistants will appreciate the fresh breath).
  • Also add a selection of quality lotions and hair products in your restrooms. This is a nice and unexpected touch of class for your patients.

It’s the small things, really. But when serving your patients, nothing is small if it creates outstanding, uncommon, and engaging service.

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