It’s fair to say that most people don’t look forward to their dental visits. Even the most confident patients can struggle when faced with a stranger holding a drill in front of their face. Fortunately, there are ways to make your timid patient feel less anxious about dental visits. Some tips may seem like common sense, but you will be amazed how many people forget these things when they return for another appointment. Here are some useful ideas on how you can make dental visits a better experience for the timid patient.
Here are 5 ways you can make dental visits a better experience :
1. Create a safe environment during their dental visit
We all want to be in a calm, soothing environment when we are feeling anxious. A lot of people feel that the dentist’s office is a scary, cold place, and since they are already nervous, they make things worse by adding stress to the situation. One way to help your patient feel more comfortable is to help them create a safe environment. During your next appointment, let your patient know that you want them to feel as comfortable as possible. Turn off the lights, talk about their favorite subject, and offer to put on some soothing music. If you are in a shared space where you can’t control everything, you can still create a safe environment. Make the waiting room a comforting place where your patient will feel welcome. Ask them what they like, and what they don’t like, and try to accommodate them as best you can.
2. Talk before you drill
It’s a good idea to start a dental visit with a quick chat about your patient’s life, their interests, and what they’ve been up to lately. Talking before you start drilling gives you a chance to show the patient that you’re a person too, and that you’re genuinely interested in what’s going on with them. If your patient is particularly timid, they may be nervous about speaking to you. By giving your patient the chance to talk, you can put them at ease, and show them that you’re interested in what they have to say. It’s important to remember, though, that your time with your patient is limited. You may have been talking for 20 minutes, but the examination has only just begun. So, it’s important to let your patient know when the chat has gone on for long enough.
3. Help your patient find a comfort zone
When your patient is in the dental chair, they should feel comfortable, but not so comfortable that they fall asleep. You should help your patient find a balance between feeling safe, and relaxed, and feeling so comfortable that they drift off to sleep. If your patient is wearing a bib, make sure that it is not too tight. If your patient is lying back in the dental chair, make sure that they have enough legroom and that the chair is not too high. Be sure to adjust the chair so the patient is facing you, and not the wall behind you. If your patient is more comfortable sitting up, don’t force them to lay down. Be sure to keep yourself out of your patient’s line of sight. You want your patient to focus on you, and not on the tools you are using. If you are performing a procedure, or using an instrument, show your patient what you are using before you begin. Let your patient know when you’re about to start, and let them know when it is over.
4. Don’t forget to explain what you’re doing their dental visit
If you are performing a procedure, or cleaning one of your patient’s teeth, explain what you are doing. This will help your patient feel more comfortable, and it will also help you complete the procedure more efficiently. If you are performing a scale and polish, for example, you will want to talk your patient through the entire procedure. Let them know that you are going to start at the back of the mouth and move forwards. Let them know when you are finished with the first quadrant, and when you are moving to the next one. Let your patient know how long the procedure will take, and when it is finished, let them know it is over.
5. Bring props to help your timid patient
If your patient is particularly nervous, there are a few things you can do to help them feel less anxious. If a certain toy or article of clothing always calms your patient down, ask if you can bring it to the next appointment. If you want to bring something from home, but you don’t think it’s appropriate, you can always buy a toy for your patient. There are many toys that are designed to soothe people during dental visits. You can choose something themed after your patient’s favorite hobby, or that is representative of their personality. If your patient is a child, or you are working with a child, be sure to bring toys that are age-appropriate. Don’t forget that you can also use props like posters, or pictures, to help your timid patient relax. Be sure to keep these away from your working area though, as you don’t want them to get in the way.
It is important to create a safe environment for your patients and make them comfortable. This will help them reduce their anxiety, and make their dental visits less stressful. It is also important to talk before you drill, and explain what you are doing so that your patient knows what is happening. You can also bring toys or pictures from home to help your patients relax. Overall, these steps will help your patients feel more comfortable during their dental visits, and make the experience less stressful for them.