Four Things Dentists Don’t Know Their Patients Hate

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Most dentists are aware that patients hate the sound of the drill, that shot in the roof of the mouth and root canals; however, there are several things that dentists may not realize their patients hate. While patient retention is fairly complex, avoiding things that your patients hate should be at the top of your list of priorities.

1. Invasiveness

According to American anthropologist Edward Hall, four invisible bubbles surround each person. Each of these bubbles is of a different size and the relationship an individual shares with someone directly correlates with his or her ability to feel comfortable while an individual occupies a particular space. An individual’s intimate space extends 18 inches in every direction, personal space extends from 1 ½ to 4 feet away and social space extends from 4 to 12 feet; beyond 12 feet is public space, which is open to all.

The intimate space is reserved for family, close friends and pets. Anyone else entering this intimate space causes discomfort.

As a dentist, you have no choice but to enter your patient’s intimate space; however, you can make your patients feel more comfortable, here is how:

  • Avoid eating foods and drinking beverages that cause halitosis (aka bad breath.)
  • Remember to wear an antiperspirant/deodorant to prevent body odor.
  • While you consider pouring on the cologne to avoid body odor, rethink this tactic because it could be harmful to patients with breathing disorders like COPD and asthma.
  • Keep your nose clean, literally.
  • Work toward creating a more personal relationship with your patients.

2. The Sounds and Smells of the Dental Office

Frequently, the antiseptic smell lingering in a dental office reminds patients of the hospital, which can cause an increase  anxiety levels. Create a more soothing atmosphere throughout your waiting room and office by purchasing air purifiers to reduce odors patients associate with dental work and hospitals. Play relaxing music and calming sounds to reduce your patients’ stress levels; furthermore, tabletop water fountains and fish tanks are a nice addition to the waiting room and treatment areas.

Why Water?

According to Dr. Walter J. Nichols, who is the author of “Blue Mind,” numerous studies verify the health effects of water sounds. In one study, cancer patients watched a video that included the sounds of bubbling creeks, waterfalls and ocean waves. After watching the video, the patients’ stress hormones dropped by as much as 30 percent. The sound of water allows the brain to relax because it softens or blocks other noises that are not as appealing.

3. Their Inability to Trust You

Usually when a patient announces, “I hate going to the dentist,” dental professionals just smile, ignoring the comment or they attempt to placate the patient by saying something like, “I’ll be gentle.” These actions disregard the patient’s underlying problem altogether, which is that he or she has a mistrust of dentists.

Solving this problem requires understanding why the patient does not trust dentists. To find out why your patient feels this way say, “I am sorry to hear that, I presume a previous experience has made you feel this way?”

Now, listen. Let your patient tell you why he or she hates going to the dentist. By listening, you allow your patient to get the issue out in the open and some of your patients will be able to completely let go of the issue. The benefit to you is that because you took the time to listen, your patient’s sense of trust with you grows.

4. Boredom

When a patient is on time and your office is running behind, an uncomfortable and boring waiting area only adds to your patient’s frustration. Be sure the furniture you purchase is comfortable and that you offer your patients something to do besides just read a magazine; free WiFi and an interesting television program are desirable. Placing small tables throughout the waiting area gives your patients a comfortable place to use their tablets and laptops; in addition, children can use these tables to work on their homework.

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