Mood enhancing starts in the waiting room
When they open the door, patients should encounter a soothing environment filled with pleasing sights, sounds and smells. And yet for some people, the waiting room is truly an ordeal. For these individuals, realistic scheduling helps avoid unnecessary waiting and stress.
Moreover, as COVID constraints you to keep your practice as aseptic, sterile, and “clinical” as possible, finding the right balance between an “aseptic” and a welcoming environment becomes even more complicated. Therefore, several choices and actions are even more important and can help reassure these patients.
Soft colors, an attractive decor, comfortable furniture and even if COVID makes it more complicated, the clothing of the dental staff can help create a welcoming environment and put the patient at ease. Soundproofing may also be a good idea since drilling noises build tension when heard by people in the waiting room.
Calming strategies continue in the treatment room
For patients in the treatment chair, it is comforting to receive care from a dentist who speaks calmly, including with body language, and shows empathy.
Practitioners need to be aware of their own stress build-up and keep in mind that patients in the chair are in close physical proximity to their dentist. Their perception is acute, and they will easily sense any tensions. Another way to reassure patients is to remain focused on them by keeping equipment within easy reach.
The initial product to use: topical anesthetics
The dentist’s first act in the patient‘s mouth before injecting a local anesthetic may be the application of a topical anesthetic gel to numb the area where the needle will go in. This is a simple, effective way for the dentist to reduce the patient’s stress. Although this type of anesthetic is an essential step in pain management, on average only 40% of patients¹ receive a topical gel before being given an injection.
The cornerstone of pain management: local anesthetics
In addition to their experience and know-how, dentists need to be able to rely on the best available local anesthetics for pain management. Today articaine tends to be used more often than lidocaine, which in the past had been the more common choice.
Compromising on quality for minor cost savings may not be smart, since cheaper cartridges may contain latex, lack a final sterilization phase or have a lower pH (which may be more painful at injection and have a longer onset). In addition to local anesthetics, other solutions exist, such as sedative products.
Recent innovations include new products that can reverse lingering numbness after routine dental procedures when a local anesthetic containing a vasoconstrictor has been used. This type of product is especially useful for children, to prevent them from biting their mouths before the anesthetic wears off.
All needles and syringes are not created equal
Beyond manufacturing quality, the most innovative needles are designed to have sharp, clean cuts and give the dentist optimum control (easier insertion and lower deflection like Septoject Evolution), which minimizes tissue displacement and discomfort for the patient.
Regarding the syringe, the best design is one that is the right size for the dentist’s hand, for comfortable handling and excellent control during injection. Patients appreciate a modern “soft” design for a syringe: one that does not look like a medieval torture instrument!
1- Source: Septodont-Dental Professionals Insights (qualitative survey of 97 dentists) conducted by Suazio consulting for Septodont, May 2014.