Reduce Dental Anxiety and Attract More Patients

November 3, 2022

While fear of the dentist is a common trope seen across pop culture, it's a genuine phenomenon for many patients. In fact, between 9% and 20% of Americans avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear. These statistics are troubling because they indicate that many people exacerbate issues like gum disease and tooth decay by delaying or avoiding appointments. When patients gather the courage to attend an overdue appointment, their treatments may consequently be more extensive and invasive, perpetuating the phobia and continuing the negative cycle of fear. From the perspective of a business owner, losing patients to fear and anxiety also means you are hindering the growth of your practice. Read below for a few tips on easing dental anxiety to attract more patients and retain the ones you already have.

  1. Practice active listening and open communication. Fear often stems from the unknown. Listening to your patients thoughtfully and giving them your undivided attention can ease them into whatever treatment is being performed that day. Ask them about their fears and respond specifically to their questions. When a patient is fully informed, they feel more in control. It is also a good idea to walk patients through each step, so they aren't surprised or startled during the procedure and always know what is happening next.

  2. Encourage deep breathing. Deep breathing can reduce stress and calm your patients down. Often part of meditation practices, deep breathing can summon the parasympathetic nervous system, lower your patient's heart rate, and allow them to take in more oxygen.

  3. Offer distractions. Whether it is through a television screen, a cheerful, off-topic conversation, or headphones with music or a podcast, some patients fare better when their mind is occupied with something other than their dental work. It also helps to make a personal connection.

  4. Cultivate a relaxing and comfortable environment. Sometimes, the little things can go a long way. Are your operatory chairs comfortable? Do you have music playing in your practice, or can patients only hear the whirring sounds of "scary" dental tools? Is the decor updated and pleasant? How about offering your patient a warm blanket if the room is chilly? Small gestures that enhance the patient experience can go a long way in adding comfort.

  5. Make sedation options known. Some patients with severe anxiety will require further measures to calm them down no matter what. Make sure patients are aware of their choices by marketing and advertising them!

For more tips on building your dental practice and attracting patients, visit our news and notes page here.

About Operation Dental
Operation Dental is a people-centric DSO built around a servant leadership culture. CEO Dr. Peter Kelly and COO Matt Robinson created a unique organization where dentists can focus on being great clinicians, building wealth, and achieving their business and life goals. Operation Dental supports dentists with the resources they need to succeed while empowering them to maintain the personality and patient experience of a private practice.


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