Dealing with patients

We came across this really useful acronym from the British Dental Journal (1999) to help communicate to patients effectively:

The C-L-A-S-S Communication Strategy®

Acronym Meaning Skills needed
C The Context of the patient interview Providing an empathetic setting, maintaining eye contact, knowledge of body language
L Listening skills Helping people to talk, using open questions, active listening
A Acknowledging feelings Acknowledging feelings, empathy, clarifying, reflecting, paraphrasing using people’s own words
S Strategy Assessing patient’s treatment expectations, developing, proposing and negotiating treatment and preventive plans
S Summary Providing a summary of treatment and preventive option, obtaining feedback


When running a busy dental practice, without meaning to, you can forego important patient interaction in a bid to get ‘your job’ done quickly and efficiently.  But, without putting the patient at the heart of your practice operations, you’re jeopardising the success of your practice.  Patients don’t really judge you on the quality of your treatments; they judge you on how you make them feel.

So, make sure your team all make a conscious effort to put the patient first:

  • Greet patients warmly and ideally by their name.  Respect is a key building block to cementing loyalty.
  • Ensure staff are aware of patients at all times – there is nothing more off-putting for a patient than overhearing staff gossiping or moaning
  • Demonstrate empathy – for many people, coming to the dentist is a very anxious experience so it’s important to help patients feel at ease and realise that they’re not as comfortable in this environment as you are
  • The most important part of communicating with your patients is listening
  • Be careful of not coming across as judgemental to patients.  Educate your patients but don’t tell them off
  • Try to explain treatments in simple terms that the patient will understand.  Reflect and clarify their understanding of what you’ve told them and always ask them if they have any questions or if they are unsure of anything.

By taking heed of the points above you will improve the level of patient care and find that your treatment uptakes will rise.


For further help and advice please do not hesitate to contact me. Drop me an email at or call 01463 223399