5 Steps to Building Emotional Momentum With Your Dental Patients

How does your dental care make your patients feel? Not their physical feelings, although those are important. We mean their emotions.

Does making an appointment inspire calm or nervousness? Does walking into your office cause reassurance or reaffirm their anxieties? Does consulting with you leave them feeling confident and cared for? Or more scared and resistant than ever?

The answers to these questions are more valuable than you might think. How you build on every interaction with your patients is called emotional momentum1 and it’s important that momentum be positive. Whether you’ve heard of it or not, emotional momentum is an important piece of the new patient experience and of treatment acceptance.

These days, finding a competent dentist that provides a high level of care and a wide range of treatment options isn’t difficult. Because of the intense competition in dentistry, quality treatment alone doesn’t bring in new patients. But positive emotional momentum—eliciting a favorable response at each step of the clinical journey—does.

1. Are You Likable?

The natural beginning of any patient relationship is likeability. Patients stick with providers they like and move on from those they don’t. And likeability goes well beyond just you.

Is your website easy to use? When patients call in, is your receptionist friendly and helpful? Is your waiting room comfortable? These small parts of the patient journey form the base of emotional momentum. Patients judge the person answering the phone within the first seven seconds2 and your website in about 50 milliseconds.3

In terms of care, is the first step in their visit x-rays, scans and probing? Or is it a conversation with you that puts them at ease? Taking a few minutes to connect with a patient before diagnostics creates likeability and sets you apart from other dentists.

2. Can You Empathize?

By definition, empathy is understanding and sharing the feelings of others. You need empathy to shine through every step of the patient journey, but it starts with your first conversation. Do you know why the patient is in your office? What are their concerns? How do they feel about their teeth, and what would they like fixed? How do they feel they’ll benefit from treatment?

The better you understand your patient’s lifestyle and motivation, the more positive their experience is.

3. Are You an Advocate?

Expressing empathy for your patients naturally evolves into advocacy. Again, this building block of emotional momentum is established in your first conversation. Advocacy continues throughout treatment but is most important in your treatment presentation.

A patient might want the benefit of treatment but not be ready to move forward. Whether the barrier is emotional, time-related or financial, as an advocate you can soften what is likely a stressful situation for the patient. Let them know that pushing pause on a treatment plan is okay, and that you’ll be ready to help when they are.

4: Do You Provide Hope, Inspiration, and Confidence?

Some patients avoid the dentist because they’re afraid of being judged. They feel like they’re going to “get in trouble”4 for what they’ve done (or not done) since their last visit. While this may be a miscommunication or misperception, their feeling is real. Replace that fear with hope. Finish your exam by explaining what’s right with their teeth, then move on to your diagnosis.

A patient who doesn’t feel completely demoralized can be inspired by positive outcomes in patients with similar treatment needs. Storytelling and photographs of success stories move them forward in the emotional momentum. You’ve been building their confidence throughout their experience with you, and now you have a trusting patient who is open to accepting your treatment suggestions. The patient who leaves your office hopeful, inspired and confident is far more likely to return. 

5: Are Your Patients Loyal?

So what is emotional momentum building toward? One of the most difficult commodities to earn: loyalty. Loyalty means returning to complete care, becoming a long-term patient, recommending you to others and posting glowing reviews online.

Emotional momentum helps you stand out from the crowd and grow your practice. Call us at 877.958.9180 to learn how to incorporate your emotional momentum into your digital marketing strategy.


  1. Emotional Momentum: Fresh Thinking About Treatment Acceptance
  2. What First Impression do you Make Over the Phone?
  3. First Impressions Matter: Why Great Visual Design Is Essential
  4. Why Does It Always Seem Like Our Dentists Are Mad at Us?