There’s not many people who enjoy visiting the dentist, but for some this routine appointment can cause a great deal of stress. Anxious patients dread visiting and dentists may be worried about seeing them too. Whatever position you’re in, here’s some tips to make the appointment better for everyone involved.
Compassion and communication is key
We know that a little empathy can go for a long way for patients with dental anxiety. After all, who doesn’t feel better when they are met with some understanding? One of the most important things that helps aid the patient’s relationship with their dentist or dental team is open, honest communication. And this works both ways! Dentists, try to avoid any negative phrasing and encourage an open dialogue. Patients, don’t hesitate to ask questions if you have them!
Focus on distraction
Distractions are a great way to allow patients to get through their appointments with ease. As a dentist, there are a lot of ways you can offer a distraction. You can make sure you are playing music that is calming throughout the dental office or if your practice is tech-savvy you can equip the dental chair with a television. If you’re a patient who is going to a dentist that doesn’t have these, we’d recommend bringing your own headphones and putting a relaxing playlist on.
A lot of anxiety stems from lack of control
One thing that many dentists and their teams have found helps alleviate anxiety is allowing the patient some control of the appointment. This can be done effectively in a number of ways that doesn’t disrupt the dentist and their assistant too much. First, let the patient decide when the work begins. This can be a simple as adopting the phrase ‘let me know when you are ready’, instead of the abrupt ‘open wide’. Other ways you can help make the patient feel in control is by letting them hold tools that are not dangerous such as the salvia suction. This allows patients control over when they need a break without having to communicate. You could also look at implementing some simple but clear hand signals for those who are shy or struggle to communicate. You only need signals for ‘stop’ and ‘continue’.