Most dental professionals are all too aware that patients commonly fear going to the dentist's office. Though some patients will always maintain unfounded fears, dentists can often take steps to make their offices more welcoming and inviting. Learn how you can welcome patients to your dental office and help them overcome their dental fears.


Welcome Patients From the Start

In many dental practices, a positive attitude is the ideal way to start things off on the right foot. After all, if your dental office is a pleasant and enjoyable place to be, patients of all ages will feel welcomed.

To create this kind of environment, station a friendly, upbeat receptionist or office manager at the entrance to your practice. Train your staff to welcome patients and caregivers warmly, explain how patients' visits will progress, and answer questions or concerns.

Create a Relaxing Atmosphere

From the waiting area to the treatment room, a relaxing atmosphere is key to helping patients overcome their fears. Keep the waiting area lively with bright colors on the walls, interesting magazines to read, and toys for younger kids to play with.

In the treatment room, strike a balance between positive and sterile, and help patients relax by keeping them engaged. Alleviate the fear of the unknown by walking patients through their treatment before you start. Explain the tools you'll be using and the procedures you'll be performing.

Communicate With Your Patients

When patients' fear of the dentist goes beyond appearances, verbal communication is often the best way to encourage a positive experience. Most patients' concerns stem from a natural aversion to allowing a stranger to access the airways, a dislike of pain in sensitive areas, and even a fear of choking or gagging.

Start by understanding what concerns your patients most, and alleviate these concerns by establishing trust, finding ways to reduce pain, and encouraging patients to speak up when they're uncomfortable. Ask patients to explain additional fears, and address their unease as best you can.

Encourage Parents to Model Behaviors

When you're dealing with younger patients, keep in mind that many of their behaviors start with their parents. Educate parents about the importance of dental health for kids as early as possible in order to start young patients down the road toward healthy teeth and gums. Encourage them not to share dentist-related fears or apprehensions with their kids. Instead, help them understand how much they can benefit their little ones by scheduling regular dental visits from the beginning.

Reward Patients for Good Behavior

Patients of all ages appreciate rewards, especially after completing a necessary task like going to the dentist's office. Make sure patients leave your office on a high note by offering age-appropriate treats and prizes. New toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss are always smart choices, especially when you show patients how to use them correctly. Even better, imprint your office's contact information on the prizes to remind patients to schedule their next visit.

Whether you treat kids or adults, you can help patients overcome their fears of the dentist. Use these steps as a starting point, and add your own personal touch to welcome patients to your dental practice.

Image via Flickr by d i l l w e e d