Stay Calm. Your Dental Assistant is Here.
One of the main reasons that people avoid the dentist is fear. As a dental assistant, it will be your job to diminish patient fears and help them feel more comfortable. However, making patients feel at ease is much more complicated than simply telling them that everything will be okay. Dental assistants use a variety of skills and knowledge in order to keep patients calm and comfortable throughout their appointments or procedures.
They Make Patients Feel Appreciated
Dental assistants have an important role in a dental office – they make patients feel welcome, respected, and appreciated. Dental assistants should go the extra distance to make patients smile, and there are some easy ways to accomplish this goal:
- Be prepared. Dental assistants prepare exam rooms and organize dental equipment and tools. If a dentist comes into an exam room and has to search for tools and notes, patients will likely lose confidence in him.
- Communicate well and follow-up. A friendly smile and good communication skills are important for any professionals in the healthcare industry. Nervous patients will feel more comfortable when dental assistants take time to talk to them and follow-up as promised.
- Offer reassurance. A patient that has just received a dental diagnosis will likely have a lot of questions. He may be confused about what the dentist told him and about treatment options. This can be an overwhelming and lonely time, but dental assistants can help. Dental assistants can take some time to reassure patients and acknowledge their concerns in order to improve comfort.
An appreciated dental patient that feels comfortable with a dental practice is likely to return to that office in the future.
They Break the Ice
Small talk is a great way to break the ice with a nervous patient. In a busy dental office, it is easy to rush through a visit, but this will do patients a disservice. Dental assistants will greet patients and can take a few minutes to chat with them. Whether this small talk is about the weather, local sports teams, or the patient’s family, this can make him feel more comfortable with the office environment. Patients tend to appreciate this friendly approach and will go into their procedure more at ease.
They Are Professionals
Dental assistants are healthcare industry professionals. Most have training in dental procedures and infection control, much like the certificate program offered at Northwestern College. These programs offer a wealth of important courses for future dental assistants. For example, the Northwestern College certificate program requires that students complete courses in the following areas:
- Dental health maintenance
- Infection control
- Patient services
- Use of dental technology
- Diagnostic procedures
- Oral anatomy and physiology
- Chairside dental assisting
An education in dental assisting will help shape an industry professional that is trained to offer exceptional service. If patients are nervous, dental assistants can explain their qualifications and experience. They can inform patients about how many patients they see on a daily basis. When patients have the assurance that they are working with an experienced professional, they will likely feel calmer and more comfortable.
They Thoroughly Explain Procedures to Patients
In a dental practice, the dentist will do most of the explaining of complex procedures to patients. However, that doesn’t mean that a dental assistant will not play some role. In fact, patients may feel more comfortable asking their dental assistant questions about an upcoming procedure.
There are many ways to explain procedures in order to ease patient fears. For many patients, simply knowing what to expect is enough to make them feel more comfortable. For others, use of a teeth model to demonstrate what will happen throughout the procedure might be useful. When patients better understand how procedures and dental cleanings help their teeth, they’ll likely feel more comfortable about the appointment. Just remember to take a gentle approach with patients, especially when they are nervous.
They Prioritize Patient Education
Dental assistants provide an important service to patients – education. As one of the first people that patients will meet in a dental practice, they arguably have the most patient contact. For this reason, dental assistants play an important role in educating patients about procedures, expectations, and dental hygiene. Some important areas of education include:
- Inform patients about the importance of regular dental appointments
- Educate patients about the need for proper dental hygiene
- Brushing and flossing instruction to best care for teeth and gums
By providing the best possible education, patients will feel more comfortable with the dental office environment.
They Offer Distractions
For some patients, a simple distraction can make a big difference in overall appointment comfort. A dental assistant can turn on some relaxing music to distract patients from what is going on in their mouths. Talking during procedures to keep their minds off of the procedure can also be a helpful calming strategy.
They Allow the Patient to Exercise Some Control
One thing that often concerns patients about a trip to the dentist is feeling like they are no longer in control. They are stuck in a dental chair with strange instruments in their mouths. They may feel like they have no say in what they experience and just need to sit through it.
In order to help patients feel more comfortable, dental assistants can allow patients to maintain some level of control. Dental assistants can establish a code system with patients, planning for a gesture they can use if they feel uncomfortable or are in pain. It is important to remind patients it is ok to use the gesture whenever they experience any discomfort. This will make patients feel that the dental staff cares about their well-being and will make them feel more comfortable to speak up.
If you want to work as a dental assistant, a certificate program from Northwestern College can help. In this program, you’ll learn a variety of skills, including how to keep patients calm. Contact us today to talk to an admissions representative and to prepare for your new career.