Patient-centric care: small touches make a big difference

xPatient-centric care: small touches make a big difference

Ilana Pine shares how patient-centric care, in-chair entertainment and innovative digital technology are creating a magical experience at Love-Teeth Dental.

We’re a nation of TV lovers. According to Ofcom, in 2022 the average time spent watching TV and video content across all devices in the UK was four hours 28 minutes per person per day (Ofcom, 2023).

For many of us, it is a go-to way to relax. Recent research conducted by a psychology academic at the University of Lincoln suggests that ‘film therapy’ might soon gain recognition as a viable psychological approach (Hamilton, 2023). Unsurprising then that many dental practices harness the power of in-chair entertainment to distract patients during treatment.

Several studies support this method in helping to reduce patient anxiety. According to one study, watching cartoons during dental treatment could help lessen children’s anxiety and distress and minimise disruptive behaviour (ScienceDaily, 2016). Conducted in 2016, the authors suggested the technique helps ‘calm children and ensure they can be given the dental treatment they need’.

Meanwhile, a 2023 study concluded that flat-screen media entertainment may give patients a less unpleasant experience during dental treatment for fixed dental prostheses (Philipps et al, 2023). Clinical procedures can be lengthy and impose significant challenges, particularly for paediatric and dental-phobic patients. However, incorporating media entertainment via a flat-screen TV on the ceiling can alleviate discomfort. It can also improve the perceived quality of care.

Dentistry as an experience

The concept of Love-Teeth Dental in Prestwich, Manchester, is based on the premise that a modern dental practice can thrive by transforming dental care into an ‘experience’. Illana Pine is its practice principal. She graduated from the University of Manchester in 1998, passing the MFDS exams at the RCSEd in 2012. She recently accomplished a Master’s in implant dentistry with merit.

Her ethos is to prioritise patient comfort. She achieves this by addressing the challenges many people face in accessing dentistry with a more holistic approach to care. The primary barrier is fear, often from previous negative experiences or learned behaviour, sensory issues or fear of judgement. Ilana harnesses many methods (including TVs) to ensure a more comfortable experience.

The whole patient journey at Love-Teeth Dental has been carefully crafted to support this approach. Before any initial visit, new patients are asked to complete a questionnaire regarding their general health, with assistance provided if needed.

The reception area is designed to put visitors at ease, with comfortable seating, a selection of magazines, phone chargers and complimentary hot and cold drinks. Calming classical music helps to create a serene environment. Front-of-house staff are trained to ensure a smooth transition from the waiting area to the treatment room. Patients are even offered the option to take a hot drink away in a Love-Teeth branded cup.

And it is these small touches that help to make a big difference, Ilana believes.

Patient comfort

‘We have considered the apprehensive patient in every aspect of our practice. This begins with the welcoming faces at reception, the soothing music, and the gentle approach of all our clinicians. Our reception team is particularly friendly and compassionate, always eager to assist patients in ensuring a seamless and enjoyable visit.’

Once inside the treatment rooms, the emphasis on patient comfort continues. Ilana hasn’t missed a trick with the TV distraction technique either. Every room has an entertainment system. This allows patients to watch TV with noise-cancelling headphones, cleverly distracting them throughout their treatment.

‘Our dental chairs are high-end to provide a comfortable experience. They are complemented by ceiling-mounted TVs with sound-blocking headphones in each room. This aids in calming anxious patients by diverting their attention from the treatment. They can choose from a selection of shows on Netflix; it has proven highly popular.’

Communication

Open communication is the cornerstone of excellence in dental care and a vital part of the Love-Teeth Dental ethos. The team involves patients every step of the way.

‘We discuss the treatment plan thoroughly and provide a written overview. We utilise animated videos to illustrate similar treatments and actively involve patients by explaining their X-rays and encouraging questions. Patients are also invited to raise concerns or ask questions during treatment.’

Minimally invasive techniques are prioritised where appropriate. Clinicians utilise portable X-ray machines for smaller intraoral X-rays, panoramic X-rays and cone beam CT scanners for more comprehensive assessments when necessary. This advanced technology aids in treatment planning and ensures the highest level of care. It also reassures patients that this business is more than paying lip service to patient welfare.

For nervous patients, Love-Teeth offers sedation options to help alleviate anxiety and facilitate a more comfortable experience. Intravenous sedation is available, allowing patients to feel calm and relaxed while still receiving necessary dental treatment. It’s a highly effective strategy, with some patients opting to have it for all their treatments.

‘This approach has proven beneficial for many individuals with dental phobia, providing a solution that enables them to receive the care they need without unnecessary stress or discomfort,’ Ilana explains.

Pain-free anaesthesia

However, one of her most valued investments is The Wand anaesthesia system. A computerised-assisted system delivers local anaesthesia through a pen-like device; it ensures painless administration, making it ideal for those with needle phobia.

‘Patients often express apprehension about needles and pain,’ she says. ‘With The Wand, we can confidently reassure them they won’t feel anything, and we have had feedback from countless patients whose experience supports this. It’s a revolutionary approach to dental care, particularly for nervous patients, children and those with dental phobia.

‘The Wand provides a sensation, unlike a standard injection, eliminating the numb feeling afterwards. Children and adults alike have been amazed by it – it doesn’t feel like a standard injection, and patients don’t get that numb feeling after treatment. Our team continuously undergoes training and development, and we recently organised a session to introduce The Wand to our newer team members, who were amazed by its capabilities.’

Ilana’s expertise in implant and cosmetic dentistry equips her to offer a comprehensive array of treatment options, enhancing functionality and aesthetics. However, the empathetic design of the patient journey, the inviting surroundings and the investment in innovative digital tools elevate the patient experience.

Ilana says: ‘Due to all these efforts, patients feel much more comfortable attending their next visit, knowing we invest in the best for them.’

Why the Love-Teeth Dental team loves The Wand

  1. Comfort first: virtually pain-free injections, so no more needle anxiety
  2. Precise and gentle: gradual numbing below the pain threshold
  3. Single tooth anaesthesia (STA): targeted, quick and effective
  4. Facial function preservation: no cheek or tongue numbness
  5. Kid-friendly design: feather-light and futuristic
  6. Creates positive memories: patients leave with smiles after experiencing stress-free injections, fostering positive associations with dental care
  7. Magical moments: smiles after stress-free, pain-free injections
  8. Parent-approved: happy kids mean happy parents!


For more information about The Wand, visit www.dentalsky.com/wand_dental.

References

  1. https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0029/265376/media-nations-report-2023.pdf
  2. https://repository.lincoln.ac.uk/articles/journal_contribution/Movies_on_the_couch_The_MOVIE_model_of_film_therapy/24876495
  3. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160808091253.htm#:~:text=Although%20studies%20have%20shown%20that,procedures%20is%20still%20hotly%20debated
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0300571223000404

This article is sponsored by Dental Sky.

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