Six Ways to Boost Your Dental Patient Referrals

Traditional advertising can do an excellent job for medical professionals, but when it comes down to it, referrals are king — especially dental referrals for an orthodontic office. These patients are already searching for treatment from a dental professional and are actively searching for an orthodontic practice to rely on. Standing out as the orthodontist of choice in a tight-knit community is necessary. You know you provide fantastic service, but potential new patients don’t! So, how do you get your foot in the door and get more prospective patients? By boosting your relationship with referring dentists and getting more referrals! Here’s why:

Should I Care About Dental Referrals and Referral Marketing?

Word-of-mouth marketing is — to this day — one of the top ways for your business to gain visibility in the community. If you’re looking for numbers and social proof, it accounts for about 20-50% of sales for a business. Not only that, but 84% of people trust recommendations from someone they know in their social circles (like their dentist’s office!), and referred patients will be more loyal. By building a better relationship with general dentists in your area, you can directly achieve more dental patient referrals to your orthodontic office.

Dental referrals aren’t the only referrals that matter. Existing patients can also be great for advertising your practice in the local business community. Don’t forget to remind them to leave online reviews if they’ve had a positive experience with your services. Other patients can also be a great window of opportunity for your business.

How to Capture More Dental Referrals

If you want a dentist to refer patients to you when they need orthodontic work, you must be known within that dental practice so you’re top of mind when a specific treatment comes up. Many dentists already have a chosen orthodontist for referrals so you might have some tough competition with other businesses. Here’s how you can become the specialist of choice for patient referrals from a dentist.


As we mentioned, word-of-mouth marketing is number one, and many new patients will have heard of you through their co-workers, friends, and family. Someone’s dentist can also impact where they choose to go for dental work beyond what their current dentist handles. To be a standout choice for a referral:

  • Make sure you build a relationship with the dentists in your community.
  • Get to know other doctors in the area and provide referrals for their dental practice, too! You can even host an event for those in the dental care and oral health industries as part of your dental marketing strategy.
  • Answer questions they may have about your expertise, services, or practice, and, most importantly, have a good time!

Building rapport and getting to know the dentists in your business community will land you more patient referrals.

Remember the Employees!

Some of the best care comes not from the specialist but from the employees. Existing patients likely know and trust the staff at their dental office and will turn to them for patient care needs, a treatment plan, and suggestions on which orthodontist they should go with for their next service. When referring patients, the other employees will have much power to land new patients in your practice. Be sure to spend time building a relationship with them as well!


If a dental practice or specialist has given you a referral that lands you brand new patients, say thank you! Provide a handwritten note and maybe even a small gift so they know their referral makes a difference to you. This will also help you build rapport and a better relationship with that dentist, so it’s an easy win-win for you that will land you more business in the future.


Sometimes, in order to get, you have to give — Like that adage, “You have to spend money to make money.” Hosting events like a Lunch and Learn for dental practices in the area helps you in several ways:

  • It establishes your expertise in the community
  • It allows you to meet a lot of professionals in one go
  • It lets your name stand out
  • It helps you build rapport with dentists you hope to gain referrals and new patients from. It’s fun!

You can also have events as part of a dental referral program, which we will explore later. Events can also be a part of a thank you at the end of the year and can help generate positive reviews for your business and new referrals for those looking for an orthodontic service.


Once you have your foot in the door with practicing dentists in the area, ask for positive online reviews of your business (and leave reviews in return!) and recommendations on their website, and see if you can leave a business card in the waiting area of their office. Your goal is visibility to stay top of mind and to have their current patients become your new patients. New dental patients in the area might also be looking for orthodontic services; they’ll likely trust their new dentist to make a referral. In that case, having your business card visible will boost the likelihood new patients will ask an employee (hopefully one you’ve built a great relationship with!) about your practice and services.


It’s no secret that people love free things and will remember where they came from! Make an impression at a dental practice by partnering with practices in a giveaway. Get your friends and family in on it to boost visibility and excitement. It’s a great way to capture a dentist’s current patients and get more of your branding into the world. It also requires very little from the dentist to refer you. The branding will speak for itself! Whatever the giveaway entails (maybe a free car wash or professional headshots to show off the patient’s new teeth!), include things like T-shirts with your branding on them for extra visibility.


While starting an entire referral program may take some work, it can be lucrative for your practice and build that word-of-mouth marketing into a strategic tactic — capturing even more of that already highly impressionable audience and existing dental patients. Here’s what is involved:


Put someone in charge of tracking dentist referrals on an ongoing basis. This person can also decide which dental practices to approach (maybe even a dental school to reach more professionals and their soon-to-be patients) for the program and develop methods and scripts to help land new patients and referrals.

Saying Thank You

For every referral, it’s crucial to say thank you (as we mentioned). This should be a big part of your referral program and is an easy thing you can do to get even more referrals.


Even a general practitioner could use some incentives to do patient referrals. Make them want to refer their next patient in need to your office! There are a few ways to incentivize your program, and you can get as creative as you want. These are some of our favorites:

  • Host an event for the top referring dental practice
  • Offer tiered prize stages for the number of dental patients referred
  • Reciprocate with more reviews, visible marketing in your office, and referrals
  • Partner by giving your new patients or referred friends and family a free cleaning or other treatment or dental procedure.

Ask For Reviews

No one loves asking for reviews, but it will help your referral marketing. As part of your program, be sure to include requesting reviews and testimonials from each and every dental practice involved. Especially if they have patients coming back for their next cleaning raving about your office, having another professional talk about your treatment options and practice can be the best referral out there.

Goal Setting

Remember to set some referral goals as a baseline for your practice. With regular check-ins on those goals, you’ll be able to see how your program is performing and find the steps that might be lacking.

Capture Dental Practice Referrals Today!

There is no better patient than one referred to you by a dental practice. A referred patient already needs treatment, is looking for an orthodontist practice, and is more likely to stay with you for further treatments. They have heard from someone they trust that your practice is the one to go with. Get your local dental practice to refer you by building rapport, hosting events, saying thank you, increasing your visibility to stay top of mind, and creating an organized and incentivized dental referral program. It’s the best practice for strategically capturing more word-of-mouth marketing. So, don’t wait! Start getting primed patients today with these six ways to boost your patient referrals from your local dentist offices.

Ortho Marketing…
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For over 15 years, with a focus on continuous innovation and technologies, custom marketing strategies, white glove service, and results, Ortho Marketing offers the premiere all inclusive practice growth marketing program that delivers measurable improvements, and proven results for your Orthodontic and Dental practice.

  • Specifically catered to Orthodontic & Dental Practices
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