Dental Patients and How Far They Travel

Post your comments about patient travel distance to our blog.

Dental Survey ResultsWhen we asked dentists how far their average patient travels for treatment, most said about 5-10 miles. However, anecdotes abound of patients who have kept their
dentists even after moving hundreds or thousands of miles away. Not surprisingly, rural patients travel farther for treatment than do urban residents.

"Some patients will travel 30+ miles," wrote a rural dentist, "and then there is the fellow who comes twice a year from the Netherlands…"

Read the dentists’ comments for further insight.

The exact response percentages were as follows:

  • Under 5 miles: 38%
  • 5-10 miles: 41%
  • 10-20 miles: 16%
  • Over 20 miles: 5%

Urban, suburban and rural dentists

Geographic location played a significant role, although perhaps not as dramatic as might have been expected.

Urban and suburban dentists were more than twice as likely as rural dentists to report their average patient traveled les than five miles for treatment.

However, urban dentists were actually more likely than rural dentists to have patients travelling 10 miles or more.

For more insight, check out these comments!!

New York dentists cater to faraway patients

  • “I have both an active local clientele and an international clientele.” (Urban New York prosthodontist)
  • “Including the guy who comes from Palm Beach? Not enough patients come from far away.” (Suburban New York oral surgeon)

Patients travel further to see specialists

  • “I'm a specialist so we have quite a few patients from the coast (90 miles away), but the majority are close.” (Suburban Oregon periodontist)
  • “Many of our patients travel up to 4 hours by car for their treatment.” (Urban California implantologist)
  • “I have had a few patients who have travelled 150 miles one way to come to my office.” (Suburban California orthodontist)

Some patients live in other countries

  • “Many local patients travel long distances. We also have a large number of patients from foreign countries who spend their summers here and prefer to have
    their dentistry performed in the United States.” (Rural Maine dentist)
  • "Less than 5% of my patients travel long distances, but I have a patient who lives in Japan." (Suburban New Jersey dentist)

Some patients move away but don’t switch dentists

  • “According to my software, about 20% of my patients live more than 20 miles from my downtown intra-coastal office. Some of them work downtown, and some are long-time patients who have moved 20-60 miles away but continue to come here for their dentistry.” (Urban Florida dentist)
  • “We have a handful of patients who have moved out of state but continue their care at our office when they are in the area.” (Suburban Colorado dentist)

If they can hear your ad, they can come to your practice

  • "We advertise on radio for sedation and complex dental services. People drive well over one hundred miles, or as far out as they receive the radio's signal.” (Suburban California dentist)

A good dentist is worth geographical inconvenience

  • “We have patients who fly in every year or less from over a thousand miles away. Our patients trust us. We never ever 'sell' dentistry. In fact, I talk patients out of procedures quite commonly. Furthermore, we work hard to keep our fees reasonable. If patients know you're honest and have their best interest at heart, they will come from anywhere, no matter the distance.” (Urban Minnesota dentist)


Note: Survey sample included 111 respondents.

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