It's true. The way you design your dental office can impact how comfortable your patients feel — for better or for worse. This is something that has always been fairly obvious, but now it's backed up by science. Still, far too many dental offices are unaware of just how big of an impact their design has. Nowhere is this impact seen more clearly than with children.
It doesn't take a whole lot to put your younger patients off. They are on high alert anytime they take a trip to a new or strange place. While at the dentist, they're taking in everything from the color of the walls to the sound of dental tools. The only way to put them at ease is to be hyper-aware of your design decisions. Here are a few ways that you can use an office remodel to ease children's fears of going to the dentist.
It's important to provide your patients with something that they can focus on that isn't their upcoming dental work. Playing quiet, calming music is a cheap and simple way to do this. In fact, this was one of the methods that scientists in the original study used to put their test patients at ease. In the study, scientists also used light vibrations in the dental chair to provide another form of stimulation.
Another thing to keep in mind is that for most children interactive experiences are more attractive than magazines or television shows. Wall screens with games and apps are a great choice for waiting areas. You could even turn it into a learning experience that educates children about dental hygiene, which has also been shown to reduce dental anxiety.
Make Intake A Breeze
One of the biggest drivers of dental anxiety, especially in children, is a fear of the unknown. The longer they have to wait for treatment, the more anxiety they experience. Generally, they are much more comfortable once they are in the treatment area where the dentist can talk them through the process and help them understand what's happening.
Soften The Experience
If you want your younger patients to be at ease, it's important to create a sensory environment that is soft and soothing instead of dry and clinical. That could mean replacing fluorescent lights with options that more closely mimic what children are used to in their homes or repainting the walls to be a more palatable color.
Open Up Your Floor Plan
It may sound counterintuitive, but most patients are actually more at ease in an open treatment space. When you tuck away all of your patients in secluded rooms that are heard but not seen, kids imaginations can run wild.
The trick, of course, is balancing patient privacy with openness. Setting up dividers between treatment areas is often enough to make patients feel like they have their own space, while also making the entire office feel more open and inviting.
It's true, there's no one design choice that will solve all your problems and eliminate dental anxiety entirely. But by not paying attention to your design decisions at all might be making the experience worse for patients both young and old.
With the right dental office design, you can help put your younger patients at ease and prevent trips to the dentist from becoming a dreaded experience in the future. If you have any more questions about designing a dental office that reduces dental anxiety, please contact us at HJT design today.