Going to the dentist is an event that many people dread. No matter how irrational it seems, many patients are just flat-out scared of the dentist! While this fear isn’t something a dentist can control, it’s something a dentist can certainly help with. Even patients who aren’t afraid of the dentist would definitely appreciate a little help feeling comfortable during office visits. Here are a few things dentists can do to provide comfort to their patients.
- Offer headphones. One of the least pleasant parts about going to the dentist is the sounds that go on during appointments. Drilling noises are unnerving, and even the scraping of a tool on one’s own teeth is cringe-worthy. Providing patients with bulk / disposable headphones or earbuds can help make check-ups and dental work much more comfortable! Rather than listening to aggravating dental sounds, patients can relax with music or nature recordings.
- Provide eye protection. Many dentists offer eye protection to children in order to block out the painful light above the chair. However, adults can also benefit from this. Patients have nowhere to look but up, and that light above is not exactly easy on the eyes. Offer eye protection, such as sunglasses and perhaps even disposable sleeping masks, to allow patients to avoid the feeling of being blinded by a spotlight.
- Keep child-sized bite wings on hand. A major complaint for many dental patients is the pain that accompanies dental x-rays. Many patients have trouble dealing with painful or uncomfortable bite wing tabs. While the size of adult bite wing tabs isn’t a problem for the majority of patients, a large minority dreads x-rays because of this. People with small mouths often end up with bleeding or painful areas because of these. Other people, such as the 10% of patients with mandibular tori, find them painful because of their atypical mouths. Dentists who can provide an alternative to painful full-sized bite wing tabs will save their patients plenty of discomfort.
- Treat your patients like adults. If you treat teens and adults, be sure to treat them with respect. Many patients hate going to the dentist because of the lecturing and guilt trips they get each time they visit. You know your patient should be flossing daily and using mouthwash. They know it, too, even if they aren’t doing it. Unfortunately, you can’t control anyone to make them take care of themselves! You can, however, control your response to poor oral hygiene. Rather than trying to shame patients into good habits, talk to them about their oral care on an adult level. A huge part of making patients feel comfortable is helping them to feel socially comfortable as well as physically comfortable.
These are a few of the best ways dentists can provide comfort to their patients! If you follow these four tips, you can reduce your patients’ fear of office visits and keep them coming back for regular check-ups.