What makes dental patients leave?

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Jan. 6, 2020) —  Customer experience, costs and provider network participation are among the top reasons that drive patients from one dentist to a new one, according to a new study by employee benefits leader Unum (NYSE: UNM). These results and other findings were a part of a recent online poll of 1,200 U.S. workers to learn more about their dental habits and perceptions about oral care.

The top reasons people would consider changing dentists are:

 • Bad bed-side manner or unfriendly staff – 48%. 
 • Dentist/hygienist is not very gentle or had a painful experience - 43%.
 • Increase in the price of dental services - 43%. 
 • Current dentist did not participate in their carrier’s provider network - 40%.
 • Too long of a wait at appointments - 29%.
 • Dentist or hygienist has bad breadth or body odor - 23%. 
 • “Other,” including dentist’s retirement or relocation – 5%. 

In the same survey, respondents also identified how they found their current dentists. 

Nearly half of U.S. adults found their dentist by word of mouth or referral from a family member, friend or coworker. This was followed by choosing a dentist through an insurance carrier’s dental network (24%), searching online (11%), and seeing a dental practice’s sign or location (10%). Other responses included online reviews or visit referral sites (7%), print advertisements for the dental practice (4%), social media (4%), or commercials (4%). Only 7% of respondents said they did not currently have a regular dentist. 
“As a benefits provider, it’s important for Unum to understand the general public’s perceptions and expectations of dental care that drive behavior,” said Amy Marko, senior vice president of dental and vision network development at Unum. “This helps us better connect our customers to premium care. In addition, we’re able to share these insights with our network of dentists to help grow their practices.”

The release of this market research coincides with the launch of Unum Dental News, an online resource for dental professionals and practices. To learn more about the dental network, visit Unum’s provider page.    

In an August 2019 online poll of working adults (ages 25 to 65+), consumers were asked to select all the applicable reasons that would cause them to leave their current dentists. In the same survey, respondents were also asked to identify how they found their current dentist, marking all that apply.



About Unum Group

Unum (NYSE: UNM), an international provider of workplace benefits and services, has been helping workers and their families for more than 170 years. Through its Unum and Colonial Life brands, the company offers disability, life, accident, critical illness, dental, vision and stop-loss insurance; leave and absence management support and behavioral health services. In 2021, Unum reported revenues of $12.0 billion and paid $8.2 billion in benefits. The Fortune 500 company is one of the 2022 World’s Most Ethical Companies, recognized by Ethisphere®.


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