For individuals who suffer from dental anxiety, picking up the phone and making that all-important dentist’s appointment can feel like a massive hurdle. As a dentist or dental practice owner, a key part of your role is to help to alleviate this dental anxiety – ensuring that your patients always feel as comfortable as possible in your care. But how do you achieve this? The reality is that this is a process that starts before your patient even steps foot into your office.
Dental anxiety is a huge problem. Recent research suggests between 50-80% of dental patients suffer from some degree of dental anxiety. 20% of patients will avoid seeing their dentist regularly as a result. So, with that in mind, here are some key steps that you can take as a dentist for overcoming patient anxiety…
Modernise Your Telephone System
Almost every patient’s appointment will start with the same initial step: a telephone call. So it’s important to ensure that you have a telephone system that is easy to use. The phone call shouldn’t cause your patients to feel anxiety before they’ve even booked their initial appointment. Modern telephone systems have a huge number of features and functions that can be utilised to create a smoother customer experience and minimise any anxiety. With Yo Telecom, for example, you can select your own choice of hold music for your customers. Dental practices should choose options that are soothing and create feelings of relaxation. Avoid anything that is fast-paced, as this could raise the heart rate. Not a good idea for a patient who is already in an anxious state!
Ensure that any messaging given over the phone is clear and straightforward. Work to make the process as simple and easy as possible for your patient. You could even include a brief audio recording outlining what information the operator will need. This will allow the patients to be better prepared when their call is connected. Telephone operators with clear and calming voices will work best. These operators should be patient and able to deal with callers displaying any signs of dental anxiety.
Offer Wi-Fi Services
A distracted patient is often a happy patient. This is why doctors and dental surgery waiting rooms traditionally offer magazines for their patients to focus on whilst they are waiting for their appointment. In today’s covid-aware society, it is not wise to offer magazines that are not easy to sanitise between uses. Instead, modern dental practices are offering their patients free Wi-Fi services. This allows the patient to log in via their phone and read the news, check their social media updates, or otherwise distract themselves. This will ensure that they are focusing on something other than their nerves and anxiety.
Offering Wi-Fi services can also be beneficial to your practice, as well as to your patients. You can use this as an opportunity to capture your customer’s data. Encourage them to sign up for your mailing lists, follow your social media accounts, or leave an online review. Automatically asking patients for feedback, in order to grow your Google, Trustpilot or TripAdvisor reviews may be particularly beneficial, as many anxious patients rely on these when choosing the right dental service provider for them.
Create the Right Atmosphere
Walking into a dental surgery should feel like a calming and relaxing experience. If your practice is small, you might want to use relaxing music to block the noise of any dental treatments in the background. There are technologies available on the market that can make this incredibly easy for you. These services can provide calming professional audio branding services on your behalf.
You may also wish to consider placing large potted plants in your dental reception area. Research demonstrates that being around indoor plants reduces stress response levels, reducing both physiological and psychological stress. It also minimises both anxiety levels and blood pressure. This is an incredibly affordable option too. Though you will have to remember to water the plants every day: dead plants do not have the same calming effect!
If your budget is bigger, some dental surgeries will take to creating the right atmosphere in their treatment rooms. You can do this by installing televisions on the ceiling of the treatment room. This will allow patients to be distracted by imagery as they are laying back in the dental chair. This may be particularly beneficial for longer or more complex treatments, or for particularly anxious patients.
Update Your Website
Finally, you should consider your website to be a valuable tool in the battle against dental anxiety. Ensure that you have included photos and brief biographies of each member of your team. Anxious patients may feel more comfortable if they recognise the team members that they are interacting with. You could also consider dedicating a section of your site to patients with dental anxiety to help prepare them and make them feel more at ease. A list of deep breathing exercises that they could try whilst they’re in the surgery, for example, would be particularly beneficial. Even sharing a section about dental anxiety on your website will demonstrate to your patients that you are empathetic and understanding of their concerns. It is a clear sign that there is a commitment to fostering a dental experience that is as comfortable and stress-free as possible.
Dental anxiety is a real issue for many dental patients and one that dental practitioners work hard to overcome. The good news is that there are many technological advances that modern dentists can utilise to make this process as easy as ever. From implementing a new telecoms system to offering free wi-fi services. Even smaller changes like thinking about the music you play in your waiting room and investing in a few potted plants. With these steps, your patients will be feeling relaxed and calm in your dental practice in no time.
Here at Yo, we’re all about Improving Business Success through telecoms, technology and other means. If you want to discover how our market-leading telephone systems and WiFi could help with your business development, then get in touch today!