Five tips to put patients at ease
And allay unwarranted fears
Hardly anyone actually enjoys going to the dentist’s, but if you need dental care then it is necessary to have a check-up no matter how reluctant you might be. Leaving aside genuine phobias, it is fairly common for people to be scared of dentists. Often, this is down to traumatic dental experiences in childhood, such as the fitting of braces. In other cases, dentists are seen as threatening figures because they enter a very intimate part of the body.
There are a number of strategies that professional dental staff can use to put restless, anxious patients at ease and allay fears that are totally unwarranted in most cases.
1. First and foremost, it is necessary to establish a good dentist-patient relationship based on communication and trust. Patients are frequently wary of dental procedures and they only make appointments when the situation has got out of control. Dentists must know how to listen to patients and their fears, concerns and questions. If they give frank, honest answers and reassure them, the patients will fully cooperate at all times, including during treatments.
2. Due to appointment scheduling issues, patients may have to spend some time in the waiting room, so try to make it cosy and relaxing, with comfortable armchairs, magazines, plants and natural light, to calm anxious patients and avoid the kind of sterile atmosphere that you find in hospitals. Ensure that patients in the waiting room cannot hear drills or smell disinfectant: a peaceful, welcoming environment puts everyone at ease.
3. Many patients are reluctant to see a dentist because they are scared that the treatment may be painful. Their fears are not unfounded, as some procedures can be uncomfortable. Dentists should never lie to patients and tell them that it will not hurt if it is not true. Instead, they should discuss things beforehand, away from the dreaded chair. They can list the different forms of pain relief on offer and ask patients to tell them if they experience any pain during the procedure so that it can be remedied immediately.
4. Most patients have very little knowledge of dentistry and the techniques used by dentists. This can make them extremely uneasy and worried. Dentists must clearly explain the procedure that will take place, without using too many technical terms that might confuse patients. During the appointment, calmly explain what you are doing at each stage, which instruments you are using and how long the procedure will last.
5. For particularly anxious patients, consider using painless anaesthesia, with very fine needles or an injection right at the root of the tooth. Sedation with nitrous oxide is an ideal way of calming and relaxing patients. They can also wear headphones and listen to relaxing music to block out the unpleasant sound of drills.
These little measures can significantly enhance the results of treatment and increase patients’ trust in dentists, thus making them more willing to cooperate.