Because hygienists work directly with patients and are often the consistent face of the practice, it is important that they develop a good rapport. This article will give practical advice on how you can train your hygienists to make patients feel more comfortable.
New Patients: Calm a Patient’s Nerves before Evaluation
Most new patients coming to a dental practice for the first time have a bit of anxiety about what problems might be found in their mouths, and they may have also had bad experiences with prior dentists. Before looking into a patient’s mouth, a hygienist should always begin a visit with a smile and a handshake, as a warm greeting can help soothe a patient’s nerves. Small talk can be uncomfortable for both patients and hygienists, but if you get to know your patients and a bit about their interests, you may find something in common to create a genuine conversation and find areas of connection. Ask the patient what they do for fun, or how they are spending the weekend. Remember, the hygienist is your best customer service representative. Patients don’t want to feel like a number – get to know them as best you can in the limited time you have.
Tending to a Patient’s Physical Comfort
Patients who go into a dental office for a lengthy or complicated procedure must first be made comfortable in the chair. Ask for the patient’s input when reclining them. Always ask if there is anything you can do to make the seat more comfortable. A warm, scented neck pillow is a good way to relax some patients, whereas others may relax with some soothing music. Get to know your patient, and how they respond to various relaxation techniques. The sooner you figure this piece out for an individual patient, the easier it will be for them to relax into the chair for all of their visits.
Tips for the Longer Procedures
Always begin by explaining the procedure to the patient and answering whatever questions he or she has. Professionals, like those at Sedation Dentistry Center, know that this consultation time is also a way to break through any discomfort the patient may be having. Always stop intermittently between a long procedure to give the patient time to relax the jaw muscles and tongue. Instruct the patient to breathe through his or her nose during the procedure, especially if he or she seems anxious. Talk the patient through the procedure as you work. This way the patient won’t feel surprised when poked or suctioned. Knowing what comes next might also make the patient less anxious about what you’re doing.
Giving the Patient Space
Working as a hygienist requires you to be very close to the patient. However you should still try to respect the patient’s personal space. Some patients do not like to be patted on the back or crowded. Ask the patient if he or she feels crowded. If the answer is yes, take a short break and step out of the room for a minute or two.
The key to making a patient comfortable is to be polite and accommodating. Use a calm and pleasant voice. Ask patients what you can do to make them feel more comfortable, and obey their wishes whenever possible.
About the Author
Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California Area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies.