What do dental patients want?

Bjarne Bergheim.
Bjarne Bergheim.

Every year we see practice standards and capabilities evolve, and with that, we see patients' expectations grow and change. Whether this means that more patients rely on sedation-based procedures, or they simply continue to expect the standard free toothbrush and floss at the end of their appointment, it’s important that oral health professionals are aware of these expectations so they can meet them.

So, what are patients expecting from their dental appointments this year? The results of Sonendo’s ongoing effort to know exactly what patients expect from dental procedures revealed three major priorities.

The use of advanced technologies

Bjarne Bergheim.Bjarne Bergheim.

It’s no surprise that many people fear going to the dentist, especially when they require an invasive procedure like a root canal. Sonendo learned that more than 67% of Americans are terrified of receiving a traditional root canal procedure. In fact, 77% of respondents confirmed that they would rather be forced to sleep at the airport than undergo a root canal.

Sonendo’s most recent survey went deeper, with 93% of respondents saying that they would prefer the use of advanced technologies, like the GentleWave system, for root canal procedures. Sixty-three percent even said they would be willing to search for a new provider if their current doctor only offered traditional root canal therapy. Additionally, 81% said they would be willing to pay at least $250 out-of-pocket for advanced technology for root canal procedures, with 1 in 5 willing to pay up to $1,000.

A modern experience

Emerging and advanced technologies are a key part of a modern dental experience and can be essential for not only reducing discomfort and pain during and after procedures but improving the full patient experience. But it’s not just on the clinical side.

The pandemic introduced a wave of virtual experiences that patients continue to expect today as part of a patient- or customer-centric mindset. To achieve a modern dental experience, dental offices should continue to invest in a robust online presence or portal that includes online scheduling, test results, and messaging, as well as advanced offerings like quizzes to determine what’s causing patient tooth pain. Making sure these tools are mobile friendly will also enhance the patient experience.


No one likes spending hours on end in the exam room at the dentist's office. Now more than ever, patients want to get in and out as quickly as possible.

They’re looking for minimal chair time, the least number of visits, instant relief for pain and discomfort, and as much same-day dentistry as possible. Fortunately, the advent of advanced technologies and a truly modern dental office experience play a huge role in meeting or even exceeding patient expectations. Cutting down the time of more complex procedures and offerings, like virtual consultations and the ability for your patients to connect digitally, will reduce the number of times a patient needs to be seen in person.

Innovative dental practices improve patient retention in an obvious way -- by meeting their needs; addressing their dental concerns in the fastest, most pain-free way; and making their interactions with dentists as efficient as possible.

Bjarne Bergheim has served as the CEO and president of Sonendo since 2008. Bergheim was Sonendo's first employee and previously served as chief operating officer from 2006 to 2008. Prior to joining Sonendo, Bergheim was a co-founder and a member of the management team of Fjord Ventures, a life science accelerator located in Laguna Hills, CA, focused on building and operating companies in the medical device, diagnostic, and biopharmaceutical sectors. Bergheim received a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Irvine and a Master of Science in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology. He also studied cardiovascular and biomedical engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in collaboration with Stanford University and the California Institute of Technology.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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