Creating a Culture of Caring, from the Waiting Room Up

Dr. Jennifer Plotnick

“You popped up on my Instagram feed,” or “My mom told me about you after reading a review in NY Mag.” Both are typical responses my patients offer when asked about how they discovered my dental practice, and both speak volumes about exactly the type of practice I’ve created. It all started during my years as an associate in another practice. I developed a sense that something was missing from dentistry. I knew that going to the dentist didn’t have to be scary. I understood that there’s absolutely no reason why dental offices needed to be cold, impersonal environments that people dread. I saw that dentistry was getting tired, that it was time to try a fresh approach, and that that was exactly what I needed to do when I began my own practice.

Creating comfort
My first concern was to put patients at ease from the moment they walk through the door. That’s why we are sure to welcome our patients warmly and take care of their needs as soon as they enter. Because insurance and copayments are discussed in advance, everything is seamless and straightforward when they come in for their appointment. Each member of our team has been trained carefully to ensure impeccable office flow and a friendly, upbeat atmosphere. And the staff treats each other like family, which I think plays a huge part in making patients feel at ease.

I also wanted the waiting room to be as warm as my own living room. So I made sure that it was designed to be cozy, intimate, and sunny -- with art books and knick-knacks on the shelves and cacti and other succulents standing tall in the windows. (In fact, many times a passerby will walk into our storefront entrance thinking that we’re part of the plant shop next door.) My husband’s artwork decorates the walls of nearly every room in the office, and our own Spotify playlists – including “Indie on Nitrous” and “Chewing on Rocks” – are ever-changing, lively, and fun.

Treatment Room

The point is, comfort is in the details. The treatment rooms are illuminated with soft alcove lighting, rather than harsh overhead dental lights. And each dental chair is equipped with a monitor and noise-canceling headphones so that patients can watch their favorite Netflix shows while having their teeth cleaned or cavities filled.

Caring is at the core
The bottom line is that dental diseases are preventable. And we are well aware of the fact that many people get tooth decay and gum disease simply because they delay going to the dentist. Fear of dentistry and lack of knowledge about the importance of oral health are two of the main reasons why people avoid the care they need. Our goal is to break down these barriers by focusing on truly patient-centered care, which is at the core of our philosophy. We make patients’ well-being a priority by communicating clearly and explaining thoroughly. We take patients’ concerns and priorities into account and do not push treatment or rush through appointments. We take time to educate patients about the importance of oral health and use the latest tools and technology -- such as digital photography, intraoral cameras, and the Trios scanner for impressions -- to facilitate their understanding. It’s our firm belief that it is of utmost importance to give patients control over their care in order for them to recognize the value in the treatment they undertake.

Communication and conversation
Using social media to engage with patients is just one of the many ways in which dentistry is evolving. I use my Instagram feed not only as a way to educate my followers about the latest dental trends and useful oral health information, but also as a means of keeping in touch with patients between appointments. Communicating in this way encourages patients to reach out to me with questions, comments, and concerns, and I find that it inspires trust and loyalty.

Champion of change
By creating an environment that is welcoming, informative and engaging, our practice is able to change patients’ attitudes toward oral health. When we are told that coming to the dentist is not only “a surprisingly pleasant experience” but also the best part of our patients’ day, then we know we’re doing something right.


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