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Dealing with Phobias in the Dental office

shutterstock_730376992Somewhere between 5% and 8% of Americans avoid going to the dentist out of fear. That's quite a large number of patients! To give your dental practice a competitive edge, consider tailoring your services specifically toward fearful patients. This article will give you some suggestions for specific “no fear dentistry” services you can offer to help patients overcome their fears and get the dental care they need.

Offer No Fear Consultations

Many patients are plagued by memories of moments in the dentist’s chair where they felt out of control or pain took them by surprise. This can be enough to keep people from seeing you for years! Try making “no fear, no pain” consultations part of your menu of services.

Discuss treatment safely in your office, rather than in the chair itself. Have consultation meetings on a different day than treatment, and provide detailed information about any procedures needed and the ways in which pain and anxiety can be managed. Here, patients can feel free to ask as many questions as they like without feeling confronted.

Other suggestions for dealing with fearful patients include offering them a headset and music player with relaxing music or nature sounds during procedures, providing sedation options to help them relax during treatment, and making sure they understand every step of a procedure well before they get into the dental chair, so there won’t be any surprises. Several software companies make dental animation software that can be used during patient consultations to illustrate even the most complex procedures and help patients get comfortable.

Once source of fear for patients is having their mouth obstructed by a retractor or cotton rolls to the point where they cannot communicate with you. Consider teaching your patients a “stop” hand signal that they can use to let you know they are uncomfortable during a procedure. This will give them a feeling of greater control and might diminish their fears.

Workshops for Fearful Patients

Many, many patients suffer from dental phobia. Thanks to the Internet, patients can find lots of supportive resources for dealing with this problem. But sitting at home reading websites can only help fearful patients so much. Try taking some inspiration from commercial airlines, many of which have been conquering fear of flying for years with courses and workshops for fearful flyers. Offer free workshops for patients interested in conquering their dental phobia, hosted by a trained psychologist, hypnotherapist or coach. There you can give patients information about treatments and the importance of dental health, as well as tips and techniques for dealing with fear.

The Latest Technology

Branding yourself as a “no fear dentistry” practice will work if you offer the best care and the latest innovations in treating fearful patients. This includes pain management and sedation options, as well as distractions like headphones attached to music or televisions in the treatment rooms. There are also devices and techniques for minimizing the fear of needles by reducing pain from injections. You might also consider offering laser dentistry with no drill noise!

Expand Your Brand

Providing services specifically for patients with dental phobia is not only good for patients. It’s also an opportunity to expand your dental practice portfolio—and with that, your brand! Be sure a page on your website lists your no-fear dental services and gives patients links to further information. Address their fears and explain your services in social media posts and advertising. Then enjoy the satisfaction that comes with helping nervous patients get the dental care they need and knowing you have gained their trust.

Topics: Innovation