Fear of the dentist is common in patients of all ages. That anxiety can lead them to avoid going to the dentist altogether, which in turn can end up aggravating dental issues as they go untreated. As a dental assistant, you can play a big role in helping patients feel less nervous during visits. By doing so, not only will you be helping people feel more comfortable, but you’ll also be contributing to their health and wellbeing.
Here are a few ways you can help nervous patients feel less anxious.
Use Your Dental Assistant Courses to Explain Oral Hygiene to Patients
Fear of the unknown is a significant factor in why a lot of people are afraid of sitting in the dentist’s chair. The tools and procedures that dentists and dental assistants use can appear strange and mysterious to many people. Empowering patients with a bit of knowledge is a great way to quell some of that anxiety. In fact, one of the job duties of a dental assistant is to educate patients about oral hygiene.
This educational facet of the job is an opportunity to put what you learned in your dental assistant courses to use. In your courses, you will be instructed in how to talk to patients about oral hygiene. In Ontario, you can instruct patients in such things as how to use pre-fitted appliances, intra-oral hygiene care, and you can provide dietary advice related to dentistry. Educating patients in the value of oral hygiene will help to dispel a lot of the mystery surrounding the appointment and help them feel more at ease.
Explaining oral hygiene to patients can help remove some of their fear
As a Dental Assistant You Can Give Patients Ways to Maintain Control
Patients can often feel vulnerable sitting in the dental chair when sharp instruments are being put in their mouths and they have difficulty talking. This loss of control is a significant factor in why people often feel nervous visiting the dentist. Fortunately, you can reduce this nervousness by finding ways to help patients feel like they are still in charge.
For example, before the dentist or dental hygienist begins the procedure, let patients know how they can inform you if they feel uncomfortable or need to ask a question. This can be as simple as raising a finger. Even if patients don’t indicate they are in discomfort, knowing that they have a way of communicating any issues with you will make them feel more at ease. Doing so reassures them that the dental team cares about their comfort and that they are in safe hands.
Make sure patients feel in control during procedures
Use Your Dental Assistant Training to Schedule Nervous Patients at Strategic Times
Another useful skill you’ll learn during your dental assistant training is scheduling patients. While it may not seem obvious, scheduling skills can actually have a big impact on how comfortable patients feel. That’s because anxious patients are likely to feel even more nervous the longer they have to spend in the waiting room dwelling on their fears.
To cut down on this anxiety-inducing wait, try to schedule patients who you know are likely to feel nervous for times of the day when the dentist or dental hygienist will be able to see them without delay. For example, booking their appointments first thing in the morning or immediately after lunch will ensure they are attended to immediately, thus reducing the time they have to ruminate on their fears.
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Contact Oxford College to learn more about our dental hygienist course.