147597153 © Andrii Zastrozhnov | Dreamstime.com
Dreamstime Xxl 147597153 6345e32269390

3 ways to reduce patient anxiety

Oct. 13, 2022
Reducing or eliminating dental anxiety is one of the keys to treatment acceptance, patient satisfaction, and oral health. Here are 3 strategies to try in your practice.

I’ve been with Augusta Endodontic Center for 12 years. I started as a sterilization tech while I was in college, then went on to hygiene school. After graduating, I became a part-time hygienist and did the practice marketing, which I loved. After a few years, the position of office administrator became available, and I’ve been in that role ever since.

Related reading: 

Over the years I’ve learned that reducing or eliminating dental anxiety is one of the keys to treatment acceptance, patient satisfaction, and oral health. Most patients have some level of dental anxiety before they even set an appointment or arrive at the practice. Here, our mission is to treat the patient, not just the tooth. That’s why our team focuses on reducing anxiety throughout the patient experience.  Here are a few ways we do that: 

It’s everything

Everything the patient sees, hears, smells, and touches can increase or decrease anxiety, so we look at the experience holistically.  We maintain a calming, spa-like environment. We offer noise-canceling headphones, a blanket, comfort syringes, oral conscious sedation, and even a nice warm towel at the end of treatment to freshen up. We even keep all dental instruments that may cause anxiety out of sight until the patient is seated, comfortable, and relaxed.    

It’s teamwork

A big part of the patient experience is their interaction with our team. We invest in training, communication skills, and continuing education so everyone can be their best for every patient. In the morning huddle, we identify high-anxiety patients and let everyone know that these patients may need a little more TLC during their time in the office. 

It’s time and money

One of the biggest causes of patient anxiety—beyond the fear of pain and treatment itself—is fitting care into their schedule and family budget. Two days a week we take early patients who would prefer to knock their treatment out first thing with minimal interruption to their day. And, as always, money is often a concern. We're an endodontic practice, so we only see patients once and they must pay at time of treatment. We tell every patient to use our CareCredit custom link to see if they prequalify for the CareCredit credit card. It doesn’t impact their credit score, so there’s no downside to just seeing if they may be approved for financing. Because of the uncertainty in the economy, many patients may prefer to use credit instead of tapping into savings to pay out of pocket.

Of course, sometimes you cannot eliminate patient anxiety. But when you purposefully seek to make every step as comfortable as possible, patients appreciate it and are more likely to schedule and complete treatment.

Editor's note: CareCredit is among the Endeavor Business Media Dental Group's financial supporters.

About the Author

Nicole Creswell, BS, RDH

Nicole Creswell, BS, RDH, is the practice administrator for Augusta Endodontic Center in Augusta, Georgia. She holds a BA in music and a BS in biology along with a bachelor’s in dental hygiene. She is a licensed hygienist in Georgia and South Carolina. Outside of work she enjoys spending time with family and friends and playing the piano and violin.

Updated October 12, 2022