One of the many ways you can be a true LifeGuard™ for your patient is by helping them through dental anxiety and fear. For many patients, this is what keeps them out of the chair. Patients who don't visit regularly put themselves at risk for oral and physical health risks. But when you build a strong relationship with your patients, it fosters a sense of trust...and within that trust, you'll have the ability to help them through their dental anxieties.
HOW TO HELP EMPOWER YOUR PATIENTS
When thinking about ways you can help to guide your patients into a sense of calm and relaxation prior to their dental visits, here are a few techniques you can share with them:
Encourage them to keep their regular visits throughout the year. Invite them to schedule all of their visits for the year ahead of time. This way, all visits are on the calendar and they are less likely to skip out on making the appointment when the time comes. Additionally, the frequency can help assuage fears over time and they will become more accustomed to you, the dental office, and treatments.
Book appointments earlier in the day. Instead of putting them at the end of the day when they are warn-out, encourage them to book their sessions earlier in the day. This also helps to limit the amount of time they can spend worrying before their visit.
Ask them to plan ahead. Taking time to write down any questions they want to ask, ensures they won't forget anything. It also shows them that you care, while fostering your relationship with them. The more they trust you, the more they will talk to you...and the more they talk to you, the more opportunities you'll have to be an active LifeGuard™ over their overall health.
Take time to explain everything before you begin. While most visits include processes that are routine to you, like cleaning, they aren't for patients with dental anxiety. Take a few moments at the start of each visit to explain everything that will transpire during their visit. Then, give them time to ask questions. This will help them to feel more in control and informed --- thus, helping their overall dental anxiety.
Some patients might even find that clearing their heads and spending time in meditation or deep breathing before a dental visit is helpful. Here is a medication video that you can share with them:
DENTAL ANXIETY TREATMENT OPTIONS
Fear of the dentist and dental anxiety is very real and sometimes, even with explanations, planning, and meditation, a patient will have trouble overcoming their fears. When you have a patient that falls into this category, work with your dental team to come up with options, such as sedation.
Since patients cannot drive after sedation, this option requires planning. This is why it's a great topic to address with any new patients and is something to watch for in current patients.