Spa Debra Grant

Dental assistants can help eliminate patient fear of dentistry

Sept. 23, 2013
Your dental patients will love you for taking the time to learn spa techniques

Fear is the No. 1 reason that people avoid the dentist. As dental assistants, we can play an important role in diminishing patients’ fears and gaining the doctor’s trust.

We typically make idle conversation with patients until the dentist arrives in the operatory. We ask them about their lives and tell them about ours, thinking that this will take their mind off their dental treatment. But dental patients are much smarter than that. The truth is, their anxiety escalates. It is presumptuous of us to think that by talking about golf, restaurants, or vacations, we can keep their mind off being in the dental chair.

Often, patients don’t hear a word we’re saying, and they usually don’t appreciate our efforts. What if there was a way to shift the paradigm and give them a tangible way to lose the fear? The new RestoraSpa™ for assistants (and dentists) makes us a more valued player of the dental team. Patients will want to come back to see us, and they will not fear their dental appointments. Patients will be pleased that their dentist office offers this service for their comfort, without the use of additional drugs. Yes, you read that right — without additional drugs.

Currently, when a patient leaves the office, they leave knowing some “nice girl” assisted the doctor. With RestoraSpa, they will not only remember your name, they will not forget you because you gave them the best dental experience they’ve ever had. They will not hesitate to tell their friends and family about their most relaxing and pleasant experience in the dental chair.

Spa techniques prove effective

In 1986, Oraspa began developing The DentalSpa, a relaxation technique for hygienists to offer at the maintenance visit. Oraspa bases its philosophy on addressing the five senses. Patients have said for years that dentists should use this method in their treatment room. Due to long appointments and the nature that The DentalSpa is a prophy, it could not be done. After three years of determining the many different styles and techniques that each dental office has, Oraspa recently came out with The RestoraSpa. This technique can be adjusted to most dental procedures. The dental assistant has the key role of providing this service to patients, and it helps keep the doctor on task with what he or she needs to get done.

The RestoraSpa training course is an extensive but refreshing full day of learning and clinic for assistants and dentists that includes Diversional Touch Therapy™ (DTT). DTT begins with the use of warm basalt stones during the injection process. While they are waiting for the anesthetic to take effect, dental assistants learn how to relax the patient’s facial muscles and disperse the anesthetic with the gentleness of warm stones. The volcanic basalt stones have two active minerals — magnesium oxide and calcium oxide — that aid in muscle relaxation and joint articulation. The warmth disperses the anesthetic evenly and efficiently from muscle to bone to nerve. This reduces the chance of additional swelling.

When the doctor returns to the room to begin treatment, the patient breathes specific dental essential oil blends that complement his or her medical history throughout the treatment. When the doctor must leave the room, the assistant carries out a technique that relaxes the masseter muscle and TMJ, which tend to become tense and tight during dental treatment.

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The post-treatment therapy begins with the dental assistant using anti-inflammatory cool stones to reduce swelling and discomfort before a patient leaves the office, along with a few other calming considerations. The entire approach is designed to eliminate the fear of dentistry, and the dental assistant plays a huge role in this unique procedure.

There is a 30-day internship recommended for the doctor and assistant to practice these techniques on staff and family in order to become efficient and confident in their new service.

This patient-driven request to make the dental appointments more comfortable sets some dental offices apart from the rest. The heart of an Oraspa practice is The DentalSpa…but the soul is The RestoraSpa.

Debra Grant is the owner of the Chicago-based dental spa consulting and event planning company, D Grant & Associates, Inc. Contact her at [email protected].