“Fear is not real. It is just the product of thoughts you create”
A concealed face leaning over your face with its Weird mouth mirror and terrifying tools? NO, it’s not the upcoming slasher movie. We are talking about our very own dentist in the position of starting a dental procedure. Today we are going to discuss this fear known as Dentophobia- the fear of visiting dentists.
A study conducted in the UK, reveals that almost 70% of adults suffer from some degree of Dentophobia. Surprisingly, very few know that Dentophobia exists! Not visiting the dentist is just considered as a part of indolence/ procrastination, but that doesn’t change the fact. Dentists are more likely to have low patient retention due to dentophobia.
Dental anxiety, or dental fear, is estimated to affect approximately 36% of the population, with a further 12% suffering from extreme dental fear.
However, the problem is not limited to adults alone as children have been found to be affected by it too. There were 105 children out of 250 (42%) who experienced dental fear according to a survey.
Dentophobia in Detail
Dentophobia refers to a condition in which people have an excessive, irrational fear of visiting dentists or dental procedures. This fear can lead to severe anxiety and avoidance, as well as significant impairment in social and occupational functioning. Dentophobia prevents people from visiting their dentist for routine check-ups, necessary treatments, and even emergency treatment when it is desperately needed.
The number of people with dental issues have increased, decreasing a dentist’s time per patient. Then again, due to lack of resources, at times dentists aren't able to explain treatment details to their patients. This makes patients afraid of dentists because they don't really understand how the treatment works.
Thus, dentophobia is a real problem, and it can lead to serious dental problems if not treated properly.
Possible reasons for Dentophobia - The scary patient experience at the clinic
Well, the phobia may not be for the dentist, but majorly because of the instruments used by the dentists. The fact that you can not see what is going on while the treatment is on and the overall sterile and clinical ambiance holds a huge impact. Right from the retractors to the needles, every tool is disconcerting. As dentophobia is on the rise, a little change in the approach of treatment can solve the hesitance of patients about visiting the dentist and minimize their anxiety. To help patients fight their fears for better oral health and general well-being, a serene atmosphere that’s soothing to the senses, an environment where they can relax, enjoy and feel comfortable during their visit to the clinic, together immensely helps.
A dental practice can implement a variety of strategies aimed at reducing the anxiety that patients feel. One such strategy is to enhance the in-clinic experience of the patients via patient engagement solutions through a budget-friendly platform like Nth Sense.
What exactly is in-clinic experience?
It basically refers to the personal attention a patient receives during the treatment. This includes the conduct of every staff in the clinic right from the receptionist to the dentist.
The in-clinic experience is an integral part of cosmetic dentistry. It is the total process of having cosmetic dental treatment and includes everything from first contact with your dentist to the happy smiles after the treatment & also the future appointments for that matter. All aspects of the in-clinic experience ultimately impact patient satisfaction.
So, what does it take to create a great in-clinic experience? Let’s have a look at some practices that provide excellent in-clinic experiences
6 simple ways to combat dentophobia with patient experience.
1. The feel-good factor
The dentist is not the only one responsible here, the first-hand encounters also play a great role in handling a patient’s dentophobia. Friendly communication between the clinic’s staff and the patients will make them more comfortable and open for queries. In fact, this gesture will help gather genuine patient feedback too.
2. If it’s good for the eyes, it’s good for the teeth
The moment a patient settles down after entering the clinic & encountering the ambiance, the very next thing that gets noticed is the gross images of before and after dental procedures displayed on the TV/Posters/Magazines. Ensure the images encourage the patients and assure them that they have come to the right place and not scare them away. This will help the patient set up a positive mindset of the upcoming procedure and also build trust.
3. Communicate with the patients
A happy and efficient Dentist - Patient Communication is one of the main factors for tackling Dentophobia.
Make sure that the patients clearly understand the treatment, are comfortable and can ask questions if something is bothering them. Patients feel more comfortable with doctors who keep updating them throughout the treatment.
4. Have a playlist of pleasant music in the clinic
Listening to music is a great way to calm the nerves and keep your mind off what’s going on, especially in long procedures like a root canal.
5. Maintain a comfortable temperature
Too cold temperatures can increase patients' anxiety and discomfort. A balanced temperature can help them calm down and ease into the treatment. Your habitual temperatures (cold/hot) might bother your patients. It is a good practice to ask them if they are comfortable before you start the treatment and always offer to adjust so that while you are busy making their teeth better they are not freezing or sweating!
6. Using aromas to divert the patient's attention from the stillness of the clinic
Hygiene is the most important but sometimes extremely clean places have a peculiar smell of disinfectants and chlorine, which can trigger anxiety. Simply refraining from giving them a typical hospital feeling & going for a more relaxed aroma can completely create wonders. To avoid this, a soothing room freshener or an incense oil diffuser can make a big difference.
To conclude, the in-clinic experience can be said to be one of the best ways to fight patients’ dentophobia. Referring to the quote above - fear is created by the mind, so with the right patient engagement tools and tricks, we simply reverse all the trigger points to turn a scary experience into a relaxing one. This is an extremely important dental practice to help enhance your connection with patients and maximize the chances of them completing the treatment and returning for future visits.
Add on more to your patient experience, with the Nth Sense’s tested patient engagement solutions. Meet your goals with their strategic approach with small impactful updates/suggestions, driven by real-time data.
Now that you have read the power of in-clinic experience, try implementing it and unleash its benefits on-ground.