Many Americans claim that they are afraid of going to their dentist. In fact, it's so common that it even has its own term: "dental anxiety". Why are people so anxious about going to the dentist? Is it really so bad? You wait in an uncomfortable room, read some old magazines, and then sit in an uncomfortable chair while someone probes at your mouth. Okay, so it's not exactly anyone's idea of a picture-perfect day.
A trip to the dentist doesn't have to be this unpleasant and the unpleasant truth is that your office design may be adding to your patient's sense of anxiety. Here are a few tips on utilizing your office design to make sure your patients have the best experience possible.
Setting The Mood With Music
It's a well-known fact that music can impact your mood. Fast, loud music can make you more aggressive while slow, quiet music can make you more subdued. There are many shades in between as well. This finding is so robust that even the American Dental Association recommends music as a way of coping with dental anxiety. Sometimes patients will bring their own music to listen to, but you can't rely on that for everyone. Also, remember that it's not enough to just have any old music playing. You need to carefully consider the mood you're trying to create and play the appropriate music at an appropriate volume.
Using Television For Good
Television gets a bad rap. People say it's cheap entertainment that numbs your mind. In some cases that can be exactly what the doctor ordered. Televisions in the waiting areas and even in the examination rooms can provide a welcome distraction for anxious patients. Just remember that the programming should be relaxing and family-friendly. No one wants to have someone probing at their mouth while also being forced to watch an inflammatory political news segment. Try a calming nature documentary on Netflix instead.
You can get pretty creative with televisions in your office — they don't have to be strictly for entertainment. One example of this would be using them to educate your patients about procedures. The patients perceived lack of control is often a source of dental anxiety. A short, educational video that goes over the upcoming procedure can do a lot to calm their nerves. When they know what's coming they are a lot less likely to be anxious about it.
Making sure your patients feel comfortable and safe is part of your job as a dentist. You are responsible for the entire patient experience — not just while they're in your chair, but from the moment they walk through your door until the moment they leave.
While there isn't much you can do about the discomfort of being in that dental chair for an hour, but you can limit anxiety by designing your office with the needs of your patients in mind. Setting the mood with music and television programming is just one piece of the puzzle. There are a number of ways that you can use the design of your office to keep your patients comfortable.
If you have any more questions about designing a dental office that is pleasing to both patients and practitioners don't hesitate to contact us at HJT design today.