Dental practice design for nervous patients
Soft colours, thoughtful furnishings and careful dental practice design can help put nervous patients at ease, says Justin Hind.
Being nervous about going to the dentist is not uncommon. In fact, 36% of the general public who do not visit the dentist regularly said fear was the main reason, according to a recent survey by the Oral Health Foundation.
As a dental professional it can be frustrating to see these cases, especially if you know the patient. You could save a significant amount of pain and discomfort if the patient came to you sooner.
Patients must always be the ones to take the first step in making an appointment. However, it is well within your power to help them feel at ease once they enter your practice. A well-designed reception, waiting room and surgery can go a long way to help you achieve this.
The reception area and waiting room will give a prospective patient a lasting first impression of your practice. So make sure it’s a good one.
Try to make the space as inviting and open as possible. By decorating your reception and waiting room as you would a home, you can minimise any ‘clinical’ feel. This makes it feel much more comfortable and familiar to patients. Thoughtful use of soft furnishings and wall art can help achieve this. If you are struggling for inspiration, look at department store displays, hotel lobbies, or Pinterest for more ideas.
A splash of colour
An easy way to help you choose suitable décor for your practice is to stick to a limited colour palette or a single colour. Such as the most prominent colour in your logo. This is a great branding exercise, and keeps a unified theme running through your whole practice.
Bringing colour into your equipment can be a great way to make the surgery less intimidating, too. Your dental chair will be the ultimate destination for every patient that walks in. So, naturally, it will be the focal point of the room for them.
Consider colourful upholstery on a modern dental chair. A bright colour combined with a modern dental practice design can make a surgery seem less clinical. As well as seeming more relaxing and reassuring to patients.
For those who have the opportunity to invest in their practice, consider if new equipment or even a full redesign of your surgery could lead to a better patient experience. A chair with rear or side delivery, for example, can help put nervous patients at ease. Motors and other hand pieces are kept out of their sight.
Picture removing all the equipment off the chair, so the patient only sees a comfortable chair and your welcoming smile when they enter the surgery.
This can be easily achieved with a ceiling or wall-mounted light, a side delivery system that can be tucked away into cabinetry, and 12-o’clock assistant’s instrumentation and complete removal of the cuspidor (using suction and true four-handed dentistry instead).
Making dental practice design improvements
New equipment may seem expensive initially. However, investing in high-quality products and expanding your patient offering is a popular way of boosting income and attracting customers in the long term.
If you decide to purchase new equipment this year, make sure you consider any services or treatments you may want to offer in the future. For example, the new A-dec 500 dental chair is an open-source platform. This enables you to integrate all the technology you need now and in the future. It ensures you aren’t limited to a certain brand of technology. This could become useful if you want to add additional technology to your chair at a later date, such as an intraoral scanner, without limitations.
Regardless of the size of your practice or budget, there is always room for improvement with nervous patients. Whether it’s something as small as redecorating with homely furnishings, a larger investment in new equipment or a thoughtful dental practice design, make 2020 the year you invest in your practice and patient care.
Published first in Dentistry magazine. To sign up to receive your copy of Dentistry magazine visit www.fmc.co.uk.