Dental anxiety is real, and it’s something that can keep your patients out of the office. You know that delayed care can result in additional discomfort, so here are 7 tricks to helping your guests feel relaxed during their appointment.
1. Give People Choices.
It’s human nature; none of us like being told what to do. Giving people choices and allowing them to select the best alternative makes them feel as if there’s less pressure when it comes to things like getting dental work done.
When appropriate, try to always offer an alternative — even if it’s not the best one — like explaining “the other option” as not doing anything to a tooth at all, and what would happen as a result. There’s only one choice, but you’re psychologically disguising it as two.
2. Be Personable.
Find out what your patients like, what hobbies they have, what they plan to do on vacation, or their favorite restaurant. The more you get to know them on a personal level and find things in common, the easier it is for them to see you as a friend instead of a (possibly) scary person in a white coat.
3. Turn up the Nitrous.
There’s nothing wrong with offering nitrous oxide to your patients. Still, many dentists have the feeling that they can out-wit their patients by performing treatments without laughing gas. Yes, it’s possible; no, it’s not always the best choice.
There’s a reason why nitrous has been used in dentistry for over a century: it works well. Anxious patients may be too embarrassed to ask for gas, so offer it before they do.
4. KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid)
Blunt? Yes. But the “KISS” rule applies to dentists just as much as it does anyone else handling a problematic situation. If your patient is uptight about being seen, try scheduling shorter procedures with extra time blocked out, so that no one feels rushed.
5. Distract People
People often joke about their dentist’s talking to them during the exam (“How can I answer? Their hands are in my mouth!”) but there’s some value behind the conversations going on during appointments. Your talking will usually distract them from whatever else is going on, allowing you to work more efficiently while they’re comfortable.
6. Add a Few Finishing Touches.
Try making your practice feel more “homey” and less clinical. Add aromatherapy and warm colors, or offer bottled water and hot towel after the visit. A few tweaks to your existing workplace can make visits something that patients look forward to.
7. Start Out with a Smile.
No matter how great of a dentist you are, your patients will see your staff first. Encourage your front desk staff to be warm, friendly, and always attentive to the people right in front of them. Make it a policy to smile, even if you’re talking on the phone. People can tell by the tone in your voice!
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