How to Help Comfort Patients with Anxiety
A Positive Experience for Great Oral Health
Every dental professional has their fair share of anxious patients who come in to visit.
While we always appreciate the effort made by particularly dental-phobic patients who finally muster up the courage to face their fears, it’s important that we do our best to make sure that their dental experience is as positive and comforting as we can make it.
When interacting with your next anxious patient, keep these factors in mind:
The way in which you communicate with your patient is very powerful. Patients will learn to trust you if you give them a heads up before you perform a certain step, or take time to educate them about why you’ll be doing what you’ll doing or what they can expect to feel. Communicating with your anxious patient throughout their procedure will let them know that you aren’t hiding anything from them, and allows for open communication that goes both ways. The more you speak to your patient, the more they’ll feel welcome or comfortable to speak to you, as well.
Body language is another important form of communication. Hold your body in a confident, upright and professional manner to convey to your patient that you know what you’re doing, and are one to trust. Slouching or giving off a self-doubting vibe will only confirm your patient’s uncertainties (and hey, let’s face it – will only contribute to back pain on your end!). Also, try to appear relaxed along with your confident manner – this will actually help your patient to relax, too.
Reassuring your patient that what you are doing is in his/her best interest, and that there is nothing to fear as you perform the procedure will help to make the patient feel more at ease. Tell your patient that they’re doing a great job, and don’t be afraid to smile. Avoid expressing concern or any negativity on your face while you’re working on their teeth, as this will stir up more anxiety. All of these reassuring things will help to provide a positive experience.
If your patient has something else to focus on besides their dental treatment, they will feel much more relaxed. Offer your patient the option to watch TV as they receive their treatment, or, let them know that they can feel free to listen to their own music on their earphones. If your patient has options, this will help to make them feel more in control – which they will often appreciate. It also lets the patient know that you’re rather easy going and are happy to provide them with a comfortable experience that respects their individual preference.
Explain sedation options to your nervous patient. An oral sedative, or a date with the nitrous oxide mask may be all they need to feel more comfortable with their treatment. It can be comforting to the patient when they are given the power of choice.
How do you calm your dental-phobic patients? While it sure can be tough, we’ll never stop fighting to give dentistry the good rap it deserves!
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and… HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Stay warm and safe this winter season :)