By Trevor Horne

How Can Dentists Help Alleviate Their Patients' Anxiety?

There was a time when going to a dentist was a scary thing. Due to some of the rudimentary tools used during those procedures, many of us grew up fearing a visit to the dentist. Dental instruments have come a long way since and almost all dental procedures are relatively painless. Even in cases where there is some inevitable discomfort, dentists are usually armed with the resources to numb the pain. While this is true, the fear of dentists still lingers in the minds of many people. This is why it is important for any dental practice to take steps to alleviate anxiety in the minds of the patients. Here are some things that you can do to alleviate this anxiety.

Talk to Your Patients

Experienced dentists know that simply talking to your patients is often enough to alleviate most of their fear about an upcoming procedure. This is the reason why dental clinics are encouraged to have friendly staff members who will not tire of answering patients’ questions even if they may not have much to do with the procedure at hand. While a patient is waiting for a procedure, it is ok to speak to them and make them as comfortable as possible.

Take Them Through the Procedure

They say knowledge is power and this truism certainly rings true when it comes to alleviating patient anxiety in a dental clinic. Most of the patient's fears are borne out of misinformation often from friends and relatives. As the attending dentist, take time to guide the patient through every step of the procedure in advance, and some of the dental instruments that are likely to be used. Let them know what is the objective of each step and how you will help them cope with any discomfort at each stage. Understanding why we are going through anything is often a great motivator for human beings and dental procedures are no exception. 

Clinical Environment

One of the easiest ways to put patients at ease is to ensure that you have a welcoming and comfortable environment in your clinic. While cleanliness is important, your dental clinic does not have to look cold and sterile. Paintings, flowers, and other everyday items can go a long way in easing the fears of your patients. This is especially important for children who are likely to take their minds off the fear of a procedure if they are engaged in other activities such as play. If your clinic handles a significant number of young patients, you may want to consider hiring support staff who are specially trained to handle children.

Give Patients Some Control

This plays on the fact that we are less likely to feel anxious if we have some control over a process. For example, if a procedure is to be done in several stages, you can allow a patient to choose when those stages will be done. This of course should be done within what is safe so that the well-being of the patient is always the priority. 

Another approach that has been known to work is to use referrals on your communication platforms such as websites. When patients read about other people who have undergone the procedure, they are less likely to be anxious.