This article is part of our series about improving your dental practice operations. You can find the links to the other articles at the bottom of the page.

The dentist waiting room can be a scary place for patients with dental anxiety, especially those experiencing dental emergencies. If your waiting room is dull, old-fashioned, or hospital-like, patients may be less likely to return for future visits.

Instead, making your waiting room a comfortable, calming place is an excellent way to improve your average patient experience. We’ve created this guide to help you get creative and alter your waiting room to create the best environment for your patients.

Read on to learn our 6 dental waiting room ideas.

1. Use Text Messaging To Reduce Patient’s Time in the Office

Patients with dental phobias tend to feel nervous sitting in the waiting room. The more time they spend waiting for their appointment or standing in line to talk to a receptionist, the antsier they become.

Reducing the time patients spend in the waiting room is an excellent way to ease their fears and maintain a positive atmosphere within your dentist office. One way to reduce wait time is to use text messaging to streamline patient communications.

Weave’s text messaging features can make it easy for your staff to communicate with patients before, during, and after their dental appointment times. For example, you can use text messaging to let patients know when you are running behind schedule, encouraging them to come to your office a few minutes later than they usually would.

You can also use the Weave Text-to-Pay feature to allow patients to pay their bills from their phones. This feature can prevent patients from needing to stick around after their appointments, reducing the overall time they spend in your dental office.

2. Use Team Chat So Staff Doesn’t Have To Leave the Reception Area

Another way to improve patient satisfaction in your waiting area is to ensure that you always have at least one receptionist available at the reception desk. If patients have to wait too long to speak with a receptionist when they arrive, they may become agitated, starting their appointment off on the wrong foot.

If your dental clinic is like many, your receptionists probably need to leave the welcome desk fairly often to speak with other members of your team and ask questions. Incorporating remote communication methods into your daily practices can prevent receptionists from needing to leave the waiting room as often.

Weave Team Chat is a dental communication platform that your team members can use on smartphones, laptops and computers within your dental practice. This platform creates a unified way for your team to message back and forth, send team-wide reminders, and stay in the loop without needing to talk in person.

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3. Offer Personalized Visits by Knowing Your Target Audience

Personalizing each patient’s experience is another way to improve their satisfaction from the moment they step foot in the waiting room. Most patients want to feel like you remember them and value their commitment to regular dental treatment. Taking steps to personalize their visit can show them that they’re not just another patient on your list.

WeavePOP can help you familiarize yourself with patients’ names, making it easier to personalize each patient’s visit when they arrive. Every time a patient calls your office, you can immediately see a profile page with that patient’s:

  • Name
  • Photo
  • Upcoming appointment information
  • Last visit date
  • Overdue balances
  • Special notes

Seeing this information for every patient who calls your practice can make it easier to identify patients when they walk into your dentist’s office. Starting a patient’s visit by saying, “Hi, Jessica, how are you doing today?” can immediately calm their nerves and improve their overall experience.

4. Turn the Curbside Into an Extended Dental Waiting Room

Some patients— especially those with dental fears—may prefer to wait in their cars, avoiding the waiting room altogether. Allowing patients to stay in their vehicles is an excellent way to accommodate their needs and provide the most welcoming “waiting room” experience.

Instead of requiring patients to wait in the waiting room, you can simply send them a text message when the dentist or dental team is ready for them. They can then come into the building and go straight back to the treatment room.

If your dentistry office does not currently have a way to text patients, you can use Weave to send texts from any smart device. The Weave text messaging platform lets you send messages from your office’s phone number, allowing for professional communications.

You can also use Weave to send automatic texts to patients, alerting them that the doctor is ready to see them. This auto-text feature can save your team time while promoting personal communications with patients.

5. Run a Five-Sense Audit

Maintaining a positive, calming atmosphere within your dentist waiting room is essential to promoting an enjoyable patient experience. Running a “five sense audit” can help you identify any areas of the waiting room that require improvements to optimize patient satisfaction.

A five-sense audit examines how your waiting room affects a patient’s five senses: smell, sight, taste, sound, and touch. Addressing each of these five senses can show patients that you go above and beyond to create a welcoming experience and calm their nerves.

Here are a few ideas for how you can improve aspects of your waiting room affecting the five senses:

Calming Music

Playing music in your waiting room is typically a good idea to avoid any awkward silences that could make your patients more anxious. However, the music you play contributes to your patients’ experiences as well. We recommend choosing a playlist of calming instrumental music to help ease patients’ nerves and calm them down before their appointments.

Many practices have begun using platforms like Spotify and Apple Music to play curated playlists of music in their waiting rooms. If you choose to use one of these platforms, we recommend paying for the premium version to remove advertisements. Ads tend to look unprofessional and give the impression that your dental clinic is cheap.

Offer Complimentary Goodies

Offering baked goods or other tasty snacks is an excellent way to target your patients’ “taste” sense.

For example, some dental practices provide fresh-baked cookies for patients at the end of their appointments. These cookies create a mouth-watering smell that reminds patients they have something to look forward to after their dental work. They also allow patients to walk out of your clinic with a tasty treat to eat on the way home.

Alternatively, you can place a bowl of candy on the reception desk, allowing patients to take a few pieces when they check in or schedule their next dental visit. This idea is especially effective for pediatric dentist offices, as candy often motivates young children.

Provide Charging Stations and Free WI-FI

Twenty years ago, patients were much more likely to read magazines and pamphlets in the waiting room than they are today. In this digital age, however, most patients are content to scroll through their phones while they wait for their dental care appointments.

Providing free WI-FI  and charging stations can ensure that they have access to their phones while they wait. You can typically add a guest network to your existing WI-FI for only a few additional dollars per month.

Set up Modern Dental Office Waiting Room Chairs

Outdated, uncomfortable waiting room chairs can give off the impression that your dental clinic is outdated as well. Instead, we recommend replacing these chairs with modern, comfortable seating options to optimize your patients’ comfort.

As you place each dental chair around the waiting room, be sure to keep social distancing in mind. Setting furniture at least six feet apart can minimize the spread of germs from the COVID pandemic.

Post a Dentist Waiting Room Meme on Your Office Wall

Patients who did not bring their phones along or have nothing else to look at will probably spend their waiting time glancing around the room. Posting waiting room memes on your wall can help calm their nerves and make them laugh before their appointments. You can post memes related to:

  • Oral health
  • Toothpaste
  • Your dental team
  • Dental surgery
  • Cavities

6. Promote Your Dental Waiting Room Ambiance on Social Media via Videos

Crafting a positive waiting room experience is also an effective way to convince new patients to check out your practice. We recommend creating videos of your waiting room ambiance and posting them to your social media pages to promote your practice.

Social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter allow you to post videos to your feeds. Sharing videos of your waiting room is an easy, free way to spread the news about your calming, welcoming waiting experience.

Incorporating the Weave automation platform into your healthcare practices is an easy way to improve your reputation among patients. Contact us today to learn more about Weave and watch your free demo.

Check out the other articles in our “Improving Your Dental Operations ” series:

  1. How To Calculate Your Dental Practice Valuation
  2. Looking To Open A Dental Office? Here’s Our Dental Office Cost Breakdown
  3. 4 Dental KPIs That Every Practice Owner Should Know About Their Practice
  4. The Insanely Efficient Dental Scheduling Template Tips
  5. 8 Dental Recall Script Examples To Use In Your Practice

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