How can a well decorated practice make a difference to phobic patients?
Phobic dental patients don’t struggle to go to the dentist solely because of their fear of treatment, but also because they fear being in the dental practice environment.
Ensuring that all patients feel relaxed (not just the phobic ones) in the practice is crucial. The more a patient feels relaxed, the more they are likely to have a pleasant experience at the dentist
Colours are crucial!
Our bodies are stimulated and energised by some colours, or calmed and relaxed by others.
Looking to make your patients feel relaxed and calm? Blues and greens are your best bet. Muted blues and greens have a calming effect on the mind and could help to put patients at ease.
Green has a strong connection with nature, helping us identify and empathise with others and the natural world. We instinctively seek it when under stress or experiencing emotional trauma.
Blue is a cool, calming colour. It represents the night, so makes us feel calm and relaxed as if we are being soothed by the deep blue of the night sky. Light and soft blues make us feel quiet and protected from all the bustle and activity of the day.
Comfort is key.
Ensuring there is plenty of seating is important, but ensuring it is also comfortable is important too. Having nowhere to sit comfortably can cause phobic patients to become restless and anxious. It might be an idea to have a variety of different seating.
Let’s talk lighting.
Lighting will of course be bright when treatment is being carried out. The more a dentist can see, the better. But in the reception, bright lighting can become overbearing. Lights that are too bright can cause straining on the eyes which can cause headaches. Since the appearance and ergonomics of the dental practice are meant to make the patients feel relaxed, lighting should not be overlooked. Where possible, natural lighting is best. If that’s not possible, warmer lighting which can be altered with a dimmer switches is a good option for waiting areas.
Other things to consider…
Music – this should not be loud or overbearing. This can make people feel on edge and uncomfortable. It may be an idea to have relaxation or meditation music playing in reception on a low volume instead or the Top 40 or the radio!
Smells – phobic patients often have a perception of the ‘smell of a dentist’. Where you can, try to eliminate that clinical smells. Relaxing aromatherapy oils such as Lavender and Ylang Ylang can be diluted and made into room sprays or put into reed diffusers and placed around the reception areas. Not only do these have calming effects on our nervous system, they smell much better than the classic dental surgery smell.
Layout- you may have some disabled patients who need to use mobility aids including wheelchairs and walking frames. Consider that you have left enough spaces between all of the furniture in the practice to ensure they are able to navigate without obstructions. Also, phobic patients may feel more relaxed in wider, more open spaces, too many things crammed in together may make them feel anxious and uncomfortable.
What are your top tips for re-decorating your practice? What are your must-haves for a relaxing reception? Let us know!