How the Dentist Office Environment Plays Into Patients’ Fears

The fear of the dentist is fairly common among children and adults. There are many reasons patients may be afraid to step foot in the dental office. These fears can come from negative, painful past dental experiences, embarrassment, or even bad customer experience.

The way a dental office is run and how it looks feed off of patients’ fears. When patients are treated as dollar signs and rushed in and out of the dental office, their fear of the dentist can be exacerbated and the probability of them returning to that particular dental office, or even any dental office, diminishes.

It is in the best interest of the patient for them to make regular visits to their dentist. If a particular dental office is unwelcoming and more focused on profit than the best interests of their patients, the oral, and subsequent overall health and well-being of the patient can be compromised.

How does a dental office affirm the fears of patients?

This can be segmented into two groups: the office appearance and the staff/patient interaction (how the office is run).

How many time have you walked into a dentist, or medical office and the walls are painted a bland, neutral color, there are cheap, tacky water color paintings on the walls, there are the dusty, fake floor plants, uncomfortable chairs and old magazines adorning the waiting room tables?

Likely, this captures the experience of many patients.

There is nothing more intimidating and impersonal as when a patient garners the courage to come in for an appointment and the waiting room is cold, boring, and crowded. It won’t make them comfortable and at ease. It will encourage them to dwell with their negative thoughts.

The exam room is another area that can give patients the heebie-jeebies. What is the lighting like? How comfortable are the chairs? Are there TVs in the rooms to distract patients? What is the noise level like?

A quality dental office will look calm, inviting and welcoming. Patients should feel relaxed and comfortable.

The dental office can have the best layout, be perfectly decorated, have TVs everywhere, look inviting and welcoming, but still be full of unhappy, fearful patients.

The level of customer service plays just as big a part as how the inside of the dental practice looks, sounds and smells.

Patients may be comfortable in the waiting room, but if their just treated as a number and not as a person, they can feel alone in their fears and feel intimidated and discouraged.

Well-run dental offices have highly trained staff that takes the time to get to know each patient and interact with them. They won’t try to persuade patients to pursue extra, non-essential dental work to get more money out of the patient. They also won’t rush patients through to see if they can get the maximum amount of appointments per day.

The dentist and staff will be transparent and honest about dental health diagnostic results and thoroughly discuss all treatment options with the patient. The staff and dentist will be personable, friendly, courteous and approachable.

The receptionist is the first staff member a patient will meet and interact with. He or she needs to be friendly, respectful, helpful, clear, attentive and competent.

There are many different reasons patients put off going to the dentist, and therefore, put their dental health at risk. The concierge dental office model puts the patients best interest first, not dollars, making for a more enjoyable dental experience.