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Patient Recalls and the Dental Practice

The latest patient survey shows that just 60% had tried to get an NHS dental appointment in the last two years. Of these over 90% were successful in getting an appointment; of the remainder most chose private care.

The 60% figure caught us by surprise. Over the past decade we've seen a lot of changes within the dental profession so we expected that number to higher.

It may be that some patients fear going to the dentist, either due to past experience in the chair or horror stories from a friend or family member but with patient care an absolute priority is modern dentistry.

The majority of dentist are really good at coping with every type of patient. They will have seen and dealt with every phobia, issue and even upset child you could think of.

The information available online is now a blessing and a curse. Patients are able to see public reviews of the practice as well as the published Care Quality Commission results. This allows patients to make the right choice in the practice they choose but the internet also allows them to start self-diagnosing whatever issue they may have which can lead to unneeded anxiety.

Although there is currently a lack of funding and grants in order to build new NHS practices to be built throughout England and Wales, there are a lot of new, affordable private dental practices opening up every day and they have to have a CQC inspection before they can start treating patients.

A patient's teeth require the proper care and attention and if only 60% of patients are trying to get an appointment how do you entice patients to come back to your practice?

Having an effective recall system is key. Each dental software system manages recalls slightly differently so seek the one that suits your office system the best.

Typically not every recall is successful so what can you do to ensure success? Before the patient leaves the practice at the end of an appointment you should try and create a perception of value to the patient. A personable "see you at your next appointment in December' etc., is very, very easy but helps create a good feeling in the patient.

When it comes time for the recall it is sometimes a dreaded job to run the recall report. This is understandable as the recall system in each dental software system can often seem intimidating. However, calls and personalised postcards work the the best when trying to get a new appointment for a patient.

Picture credit: Joseph Morris

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