Many people have a fear of the dentist – ranging from mild to significant. They stress out about each visit and cannot get comfortable once they’re in the office. But us healthcare professionals responsible for your teeth understand your worries. We deal with this daily and have developed ways to lessen the stress. Here are six ways dentists calm you while you’re in the chair.
One of the worst parts of sitting in a dentist’s chair is the bright light. Dentists have to use high-powered lamps. Otherwise, they couldn’t see inside the darkest portions in the back of your mouth. Though it’s necessary, this bright light creates a different problem. The patient has to stare straight into this light, which magnifies the tension in an already stressful situation.
Many dentists use a solution that even addresses a secondary concern. Dentists ask their patients to wear coloured glasses. The idea is to block out the glaring light from the lamp. The side benefit is that these glasses offer protection against clumsy hands and flying fluids.
Dentists use tools to fix your teeth, and sometimes these tools or other things fall from their hands. The glasses protect eyeballs from falling objects. Also, a dentist’s visit includes the occasional fluid. You’re spitting, tools are rubbing against your teeth, and people occasionally cough or sneeze. The glasses make sure that none of these flying fluids get in your eyes.
Sports bars are popular for a reason. Many people enjoy televised programming. A fearful patient who walks into a dentist’s office is someone who needs some amusement. Daytime television works as the perfect means of escape from a tense situation. The patient can forget about all their worries as they watch television.
Televisions will also make the wait seem shorter, too. That’s important because one of the worst things for a fearful patient is to sit in the waiting room for an extended period. The best dentists know this and plan their appointment calendar accordingly. The combination of a shorter wait and a quality talk show is often enough to calm a nervous patient.
Calming music is one of the easiest ways to calm a patient. It’s also one of the most beneficial. Healthcare professionals in many industries appreciate the benefits of music therapy and play music to calm people, thereby reducing the stress.
Research suggests that music lowers your blood pressure and reduces your pulse/heartbeat. To a dentist, that’s the magic formula since patients often suffer from elevated blood pressure and increased heart rates. Irrational fears impact the body like that.
This strategy isn’t as well-known as music, but the science is largely the same. The flow of running water has a calming effect on people. Hearing water reduces stress and has unexpected physical benefits. It also reduces your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure. Plus, it offers a benefit that music doesn’t: Research suggests that the EEG signals in your brain grow less complex as you hear running water. In other words, it calms an anxious mind.
Dentists use several strategies to add the “pink noise” of running water to the office. Some dentists have an aquarium to bring in the sound. Others add tiny waterfalls to the office decor. Some even choose noisier water coolers.
Since your dentist knows you’re stressed, a good strategy is to acknowledge the awkwardness of the situation. Many dentists let their patients know that everyone in the office wants to help make the experience as tolerable as possible. Hearing the words said aloud is often enough to offer the needed reassurance. A patient might feel silly knowing that everyone knows they’re scared, but it also forces them to face that fear. Plus, a dentist could develop a kinship with the patient that makes the entire situation more acceptable.
Of course, why they might expect you to answer them while your mouth is full of tools is still a mystery to most of us. Perhaps we’ll write a blog about that at some point.
Some dental work is painful. That’s the unavoidable reality of a service that includes the extraction of teeth. Still, you shouldn’t have to suffer needlessly during a procedure. Dentists understand this and take steps to negate pain as much as possible.
When you’re losing your calm during a dental visit, ask for your pain relief options. Your dentist will probably suggest options such as topical anesthetics to numb the affected area. Sedation dentistry is another option. Nitrous oxide, aka laughing gas, relaxes all but the most stressed patients, as can oral sedation, where the patient takes a small dose of an oral sedative. In cases of extreme anxiety, or for extremely long and/or complex procedures, the dentist could also administer IV sedation. All these forms of pain and stress control are great methods to calm patients during a trying dentist’s visit.
Sure, visiting the dentist’s office can be stressful, but it’s nice to know how hard dentists work to lessen your stress. These are just a few of the countless ways dentists make your visit as enjoyable as possible.