We begin each new patient appointment with a private conversation in our Consultation room. This enables me to learn more about each individual – how he or she feels about their smile and their perception when it comes to dentistry.
An important element in these conversations is learning their past experiences in dental offices. Did they have good experiences? Were they regularly involved with their dental caregivers or did they just go sporadically? Do they dread dental visits, or even fear going?
To us, it’s important to know how each person feels about dental care before they are even seated in a treatment chair. Knowing they have dental anxiety, for example, allows our entire team to tailor our touch, pace, and communication to the individual, hopefully easing anxiety and feelings of worry.
What I’ve found, over the years, is the most beneficial part of patient care is in building a relationship of trust. No amount of sedative or ‘laughing gas’ is going to help a patient overcome dental fears or anxiety. These only mask the root source. The best solution, we have found, is the patient’s understanding that their comfort is as important to us as it is to them.
Having dental fear or anxiety is pretty common. While we have many patients who state they truly “enjoy” their dental visits, we know this doesn’t apply to all. Some patients arrive a tad antsy but leave smiling. A few come trying to camouflage some nervousness but, fortunately, are always relaxed at check-out.
Our goal, with every patient, is to have you smiling from the time you arrive to the time you leave, knowing our entire team is totally committed to providing optimal comfort throughout each visit, whether for a 6-month cleaning or dental implant placement.
So, how do we achieve this? If you have dental fears or anxiety, here are some things to remember that may help you to be more relaxed at upcoming visits:
• Good Relationships With Patients: PLEASE, never keep your fears or concerns under wrap. Your worries matter to us! Tell us about your feelings – where they originated and what you feel. If you had a traumatic dental experience in the past, share that. If certain smells or sounds trigger anxiety, tell us. If you have a bad gagging reflex that embarrasses you, tell us. We want to know these things so we can adjust your care accordingly. You may also be surprised to learn that your feelings are more common than you realize. For every need, there is, indeed, a solution. We want to work towards that for you.
• Well-paced appointment times: When a nervous patient has a lengthy wait in the reception area, it simply adds to their level of anxiety once they are seated in a treatment chair. We understand this. While emergency needs can sometimes cause a delay in our ability to ‘run on time,’ for the most part we are able to see patients within ten minutes of their arrival. This is because we carefully pre-schedule patients according to the specific time needed for each treatment and based on what that patient will require without interruption.
• Good communication with patients: Fear of the unknown is an issue in many things. To us, it makes sense that patients lying on their backs on a narrow surface while unable to see what is taking place in their mouths may cause uneasiness. For this reason, we talk to the patient during care to keep each informed to the extent that is comfortable for them. In addition to keeping patients informed on what is being done, we explain its necessity to their care. During this, we also find patients relax as the fear of the unknown is removed.
• Relationships of trust: While many patients are very relaxed, we know this has evolved from a sense of trust that has developed once they know our goal is to their comfort throughout their care. We NEVER want to hurt a patient and will always do everything to avoid doing so. Once patients realize they needn’t worry about perceived pain, they relax.
• An environment of respect: When meeting new patients, some worry that they’ll be lectured because they haven’t seen a dentist in quite a while. Or, if they smoke, they worry that this will spark a lecture with each visit. We don’t see our role as lecturers, but rather as true ‘care givers’ who will keep you informed while supporting you in your quest for good oral health. Each patient is respected here and given exceptional, compassionate care at every visit.
When we see our patients, we see much more than their smiles. We see people who have busy lives, concerns, feelings, and goals. We see individuals who have become so close to us that they are like family members. We care about them. And, we want them to feel ‘cared for.’
If you, or someone you know, has had an unfortunate dental experience in the past, please urge them to schedule a free, no obligation consultation appointment. We’ll sit in our private consultation room and get to know one another. I will ask questions and answer questions. From there, the decision to proceed – or not – is in your hands. But, we know that the right dental team can convert once-fearful dental patients into people with healthy, confident smiles!
Call 910-254-4555. Or, visit our web site for a brief video to hear actual patients discuss their relationships with Riverside Dental Arts: www.riversidedentalarts.com/testimonials.php