6 Ways to Keep Your Patient Calm During a Dental Procedure


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As a dentist, you want your patients to be calm. The calmer they are, the smoother the procedure goes for you and them. However, many people get nervous about going to the dentist and are even more nervous once they arrive at the dental office.

In fact, 36% of people in the US have a fear of dental treatment, and 12% have an extreme fear. 3% of adults in industrialized countries have such an extreme fear that they avoid going to the dentist at all (aka dentophobia).

To help your patients remain calm and relieve stress about dental procedures, here are some things you can do:

1. Create a calming environment

Calming patients starts with the office environment. To make it more inviting, hire a secretary to warmly greet patients as they arrive and direct them to the waiting room. Then consider putting on some relaxing music for patients to listen to as they wait.

You might also hang up some photos or artwork on the walls and get an aromatherapy diffuser to spray calming aromas into the air. Set the temperature to a comfortable level—not too hot and not too cold. Then make sure you get rid of any clutter and always keep the office clean.

Doing this will increase the chances that your patients stay calm as they wait to be seen.

2. Talk to them

When meeting patients for the first time, be sure to properly introduce yourself and get to know them. You can ask them about their family, work, hobbies, and other interests.

Then reassure them about the dental procedures ahead and ask them if they need anything. Show empathy so that they know you care.

3. Explain the procedure

Before beginning the dental procedure, be sure to explain it to the patient in detail. You want to go over what will happen in clear and understanable terms (no medical jargon) so that the patient can mentally prepare for what will take place. Don’t leave them in the dark.

In addition, don’t forget to give them a time estimate of how long the procedure should take as well as what kind of pain they can expect. Most people would rather know ahead of time than be taken by surprise.

Wait to start the procedure until they give you the go-ahead.

4. Help them communicate

It’s often hard if not impossible for patients to talk during a procedure. So let them know they can signal if and when the pain becomes too intolerable by squeezing one of your hands. This will put them at ease, knowing they’ll be able to stop the procedure if needed.

5. Distract them

Another way to assuage your patients’ fears is to distract them. Take their mind off the procedure by continuing to talk to them in a calming tone (even if they can’t respond).

You can also have a TV installed on the ceiling for the patient to watch during the appointment. This is a great way to divert their focus away from any discomfort they might feel.

6. Reduce noise

Lastly, do what you can to reduce the noise level at your dental practice. The sound of loud dentist drills in other rooms can be intimidating.

So consider soundproofing the rooms in your clinic. This doesn’t have to be expensive. Even simple measures like hanging soft material over the walls and ceilings can go a long way in lowering the sound level.

Final thoughts

The average general dentist sees 10 to 15 patients per day. For practices with one full-time dentist and two dental hygienists, the number is closer to 31 patients per day. Over the course of a year, that’s several thousands of clients.

Not attending to patients’ stress and comfort levels will lead to lower retention rates, and you’ll need to acquire new clients at a faster pace to replace those you lose—a recipe for an unsustainable business.

So start implementing some of the tips above today. Your patients will thank you and your business will become more competitive as a result.

Larry Alton
Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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