Our clinics are supposed to be healing spaces rather than fear creating spaces. Patients are more scared to walk in a dental clinic than walk in a general hospital. Are we not ready yet to break that stereotype of being painful clinics??
What’s in name??
Who does not like luxury? Add that extra x factor to your clinic. Have a nice innovative name. Now a days “spa” and “boutiques” are trending. Small addition may add that “chic” factor to your practice. Of course when you write spa…you need to do justice to the name. Have that kind of ambience that will confuse the patient if he in for a real spa!!
So what things incite fear in a patient and make our dental clinics an unpopular place to visit?
1. Pain, of course.
2. Hearing somebody cry or yell due to pain.
3. The typical hospital smell.
Painless dentistry- is not difficult to practice. Conscious sedation, oral sedation, magic wands for local anaesthesia….there are countless ways to do it!
Your dentistry may be painless for the mouth but you have to make it painless for the ear too! Some patients do complain of the hand piece noise that makes them irritable than any dental procedure. I have had to put on some earphones for few patients to calm them down and prevent them from hearing the hand piece noise. So what can we do??
1. Sound reduction hand pieces are available. They may be expensive but if you have clientele that demands such kind...why not??
2. Sound reduction headphones...they absolutely cut off any outside noise.
3. Scaring other patients?- You may use sound proof door and windows to prevent any chair side noise that may scare the patients in the waiting room
4. Increased insulation of walls and doors to absorb sound.
5. Planning a waiting area away from treatment room.
I smell fear!!!!!!
Leave alone patients, until I became a dentist, I would also relate going to a hospital with smell of spirit and I would feel nauseated. Most patients relate lot of situations with the smell. Many "people have a fight-or-flight reaction" to the sights, sounds, and smells of a dental office. This is the beginning of the fear development. To break that negative thought, air fresheners can be used. They not only create a pleasant environment but also reduce patient’s anxiety by calming the nerves. You can have orange, rose and lavender flavours which have shown to improve the patients mood and reduce anxiety levels (Trying to create a spa! Remember!)
Waiting area-you can have some soothing photographs and music to relax the atmosphere rather than patient and procedure photographs. Show an intra oral view of teeth to a normal regular non dental person. Most feel disgusted. I was once removed from my own family group for posting an intra oral picture of great work I did. But your patients don’t care about your good work in bold fully blown up pictures. So save them for consultation.
You can add in trendy magazines and board games for fun and this will be a distraction and help them pass time in the waiting. Fresh flowers or plants also help relax patients. Having plants or greenery around reduces pain perception. If you are an aquarium person, make sure your aquarium has clean water and no dead fish!
Temperature of the clinics- the patient should neither feel too cold nor too hot. The temperature should be well adjusted for them to feel at “home feeling”
Declutter your reception of unwanted stuff. There are so many things like pamphlets . These will help your area look neat and clean giving an impression of a well maintained hospital. There are many more simple ideas that can help you to make your clinic a patient magnet, for more of such innovative yet simple ideas stay tuned for part 2…………….Coming soon
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Dr Debashree Chandak
BDS, MClinDent (FRP4, Prosthodontics) King’s College London
Ar.Devansh Chandak B.Arch
Masters in Interiors and Living Design (DOMUS academy)