8 Techniques to Improve Dental Visits for Patients With Dental Anxiety

It has always been a challenge for dental professionals to eliminate the general public’s fear of dentists, let alone manage their anxious and frightened patients. By doing some tweaks on your dental practice and applying some techniques you can be able to effectively help ease people’s dental phobia and at the same time attract those who are experiencing such a problem to your clinic.

Dental Care

Though they are aware of the importance of dental health to their overall wellness, many people still refuse to see or are still doubtful about visiting a dental clinic because of their fear of dentists. In the United States, around seventy-five percent of adults are experiencing dental phobia. The reasons behind dental fear are quite varied and are not always due to the individual’s past experience of seeing a dentist. Indirect experiences like hearing and seeing other people’s traumatic experiences and adults’ horror dental stories people hear during their childhood years are also among the most common reasons why many people still fear of visiting a dentist.

Children crying loudly, and adults hyperventilating are a common scenario you can witness inside a dental clinic. It has always been a challenge for dental professionals to eliminate the general public’s fear of dentists, let alone manage their anxious and frightened patients. The good thing is that with the right relaxation techniques, you can be able to manage your nervous patients. Also, by doing some tweaks on your dental practice and applying some techniques you can be able to effectively help ease people’s dental phobia and at the same time attract those who are experiencing such a problem to your clinic.

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Effective relaxation techniques to calm nervous and frightened dental patients.

Calming your nervous and frightened dental patients should start off by knowing them more deeply. Try to talk to your patients first and know what makes him afraid of dental visits. From there you can be able to know how you can be able to deal with his fears, how to calm him down, and how to explain to him why he should not be afraid.

1. Give plenty of room to relax

If you suspect that your patient has dental anxiety, it is best to allow him more appointment time than your other regular patients. It is important that he doesn’t feel rushed or pressured to finish his appointment in just a short span of time as it will only make him more anxious.

2. Talk with your patient on a personal level

It is always great to know your patients on a personal level for you to serve them well and to deliver a more specific and individually tailored oral health care service. This is especially true if your patient has dental anxiety. Instead of instructing your patient to sit on the dental chair directly as soon as he entered the clinical room, take some time off to have a short conversation with him in a friendly manner. Allow him to ask questions about dental health and procedures that are bothering him. As much as possible, answer him in a way that will somehow eliminate, or at least reduce, his dental anxiety.

Chatting about topics that are not related to dentistry, something that your patient enjoys talking about is also a great way to set the mood and to take your patient’s mind off his dental appointment. This way, you will not only help ease your patient’s dental anxiety but will as well make him feel comfortable around you.

3. Give your waiting room a makeover

We are talking about how to deal with anxious dental patients here, how come you insert this topic? You might ask. Yes, you might think that giving your waiting room a makeover is quite unrelated to our subject today, but the fact is, it is quite important.

The fact is, everything in your clinic can help ease or trigger your patients’ anxiety - from the receiving area to the waiting room, from how your staff treats your patients to the atmosphere or ambiance of your clinic, and everything in between. One best way to calm your anxious patients is to give your waiting room a makeover, whenever needed.

*    Make sure that your waiting room is warm and comfortable enough for your patients. If your waiting room is pretty crowded and messy, your patients may feel more stressed out than relaxed.
*    It also helps to play some soft, soothing music, to use comfortable seats, and to decorate your clinic especially the walls with some cheerful and relaxing artwork.
*    As much as possible, avoid posting gruesome tooth decay posters or spine-chilling photos of dental problems or procedures as these items can further exacerbate the anxiety of your patients.
*    You can also add some magazines, newspapers, or something that your patients can read while waiting.
Some dental clinics now play funny videos or movies inside the waiting area and this technique has been proven to help ease dental anxiety.

4. Paint your dental clinic with soothing colors

Another trick to help manage nervous patients is to paint your dental office with calming colors like cream, earth tones, shades of blue, and shades of green. Green paint, especially the pale yellow-green and beige green, is one of the most comforting, soothing, and beautiful color choices for dental offices. This quiet and restful shade can help reduce stress and anxiety, allowing your patients to feel refreshed and stay calm.

The blue paint, on the other, has this unique tremendous power to keep the mind calm and to manage stress and anxiety effortlessly. This peaceful, soothing, and gentle color also helps slow down your patients’ heart rate and blood pressure levels, thus allowing them to relax and forget about their dental anxiety.

5. Eliminate the nasty dental smell

It is important to focus not only on the physical appearance and feel of your dental clinic but also on how your office smell as this can greatly affect the overall experience of your patients. The nasty dental smell can worsen the anxiety that your patients are experiencing.

It is normal for a dental clinic to smell like one but you can do something to eliminate or at least lessen it. Since you can’t burn scented candles inside the clinic as it may risk your safety, you may consider using a fragrance dispenser. There are quite thousands of scents available on the market today that will not only help you eliminate nasty negative dental odors but also improve your patients’ mood and at the same time help reduce your staff and dental team’s stress.

6. Offer sensitivity and anxiety relief

Another technique you can use to manage nervous patients is to ask them straight if they ever experienced sensitivity during cleaning or perhaps too much pain during dental procedures like extraction. In most cases, dental anxiety is caused by the patients’ fear of cleaning and other dental procedures being too painful.

One way to combat this issue is to offer sensitivity and anxiety relief. For instance, if your patient has sensitivity during routine cleaning, try applying topical pastes first before starting. The paste will plug and seal open dentin tubules, thus providing sensitivity relief during routine cleaning.

Before starting any dental work, let your patients know and understand what you are about to do and why such a procedure is important for their oral health. It also helps to inform them in advance what they will likely feel during the dental work, and how long will it take to finish it. You can ease their fear by letting them know that you will be using dental topical gel, liquid, ointment, patch or pressurized spray anesthetics or perhaps nitrous oxide and local anesthetics to minimize pain. Remember to always be realistic but tactful and wise in choosing the words you use when explaining something to a nervous patient especially if the procedure is expected to be really painful.

7. Let your patients take control

Never pressure your patients to start the procedure right away at your own pace as this will only make them more frightened. Though it seemed to be a waste of time, it is still best to wait for the patients to get ready and to decide when to start and stop the procedure. Also, give them the opportunity to take a break in between or to pause for a while so the patients can draw in more confidence and courage to finish the dental work especially if the procedure takes more time.

8. Schedule nervous patients wisely

Offer faster appointment option and secure online payment processing especially for nervous patients. Not only will this cut down waiting time, but it will as well help grow your dental practice. Remember, the longer the patient wait and stay in the dental office, the more nervous they will feel. Make sure that you schedule nervous patients wisely, specifically during less hectic times like early in the morning or right after the lunch break.

Dental Health Care

We hope that these techniques can also help you manage your nervous patients more easily and effectively. Also, if you haven’t purchased your dental loupes yet, we suggest that you consider investing for one. Using optical magnification loupes during dental works will not only help you improve your visual acuity and reduce occupational pain, but they will as well help your patients feel more at ease, knowing that their dentist or dental hygienist is using the right instrument to deliver higher quality service.


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