Having a fear of the dentist is real and, as we know, is experienced by adults as well as children
Dental anxiety needs to be taken seriously as it can prevent people attending dental appointments, leading to dental complications and unnecessary pain. In this post, we share 6 ways that dental professionals and practices can help patients deal with their anxiety, and help them to feel calmer and more confident during their procedures.
Put the patient in control of the appointment
By allowing patients to have control over the procedure, for instance, by giving them the opportunity to dictate start and stop times, it can help them to relax and reduce their anxiety about the appointment.
Make the space relaxing
Physical relaxation is an important part of the equation. You could encourage patients to take deep breaths or encourage other breathing techniques, and also ensure that the practice has a pleasant aroma and plays calming music.
For patients with dental anxiety, empathy and understanding from their dentist go a long way. When working with new or anxious patients, take time to listen when a patient voices their fears and concerns. By doing this, it can help the patient to feel welcome and, ultimately, relaxed. Checking on the patient before, during, and after the dental procedure will help to further establish a sensitive, empathetic approach.
When carrying out procedures with anxious patients, it is helpful to use open, honest communication and to ensure the patient knows what to expect. The ‘tell-show-do’ technique is a good way to do just that. The ‘tell’ part involves using verbal explanations of the overall procedure and steps along the way. The ‘show’ involves demonstrating the visual, auditory, olfactory and tactile aspects of the procedure. Then, the ‘do’ part is the completion of the dental procedure.
Scheduling appointments in the morning
To reduce the time available to worry about an appointment, it is a good idea to schedule patients with dental anxiety for morning appointments. That same logic follows through when the patient arrives at the dentist. It is a good idea to try and see anxious patients as quickly as possible to avoid the patient worrying in the waiting room.
Create a calm practice
Regardless of when a patient with dental anxiety arrives at their appointment, they will still be unsure as they enter the practice. A calm and inviting practice environment can help reduce anxieties that may arise from the sound of procedures taking place. It is also helpful to play calming music and place relaxing posters and pictures on the walls.
As dental anxiety can prevent people attending dental appointments, it needs to be taken seriously. There are several easy ways that dentists and dental practices can help patients to feel calmer about attending appointments. These include, putting the patient in control, making the space relaxing, caring communication, utilising the ‘tell-show-do’ technique, scheduling appointments in the morning and creating a calm practice space for when patients arrive.