Research shows that dental anxiety affects 5-8% of all individuals. An additional 20% of patients only see their dentist when experiencing a dental emergency or another urgent dental issue. This is more than just an issue of dental and general health; it is also a matter of lost revenue for practice owners. Dental anxiety often leads to missed appointments, cancellations and difficulties with patient recall.
A simple, effective solution that has been proven to help ease the fears of those experiencing dental anxiety is the use of in-office aromatherapy. Studied in clinical settings, including dental offices, research has proven aromatherapy eases patient anxiety quickly, and naturally. For example:
- A study at the University Clinic of Neurology, Medical University of Vienna, Austria, found that ambient odors of both orange and lavender improved mood and reduced anxiety of patients in dental waiting rooms.
- Researchers at Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine tested stress markers in the saliva of healthy students during a mathematical exam. Individuals exposed to lavender had significantly lower levels of CgA (chromogranin A, a stress marker) than those in the control group.
- Lavender was also studied at King’s College London, where a randomized control trial showed that anticipatory anxiety was lowered in dental patients exposed to lavender while awaiting dental treatment.
As effective as it has been shown to be in clinical settings, aromatherapy isn’t commonly seen as a convenient protocol to introduce into an office environment. Fortunately, Ascents® clinical aromatherapy can help. Ascents® diffusers and ScentGels are not only convenient, but also cost-effective and easy to use. Ascents® products are a scientifically-formulated, clinically-backed way to help patients control their anxiety before and even during dental appointments and procedures.
With more than one in four individuals avoiding regular preventative dental care due to dental fear and anxiety, there is clearly a large segment of the population that is not being attended to adequately, given their concerns.
This also means an opportunity for dental practice growth is likely being overlooked at the same time. Gaining patient trust by acknowledging their fears without judgment, and taking simple measures, such as using Ascents® clinical aromatherapy in office, can boost patient recall and retention and even help drive recruitment. After all, high levels of patient trust often translate into evangelism when it comes to referring friends and family.
Additional strategies for creating a calm, caring environment for those patients who experience dental fear and anxiety include:
- Allowing extra time for appointments
- Explaining the procedure thoroughly and calmly before beginning any dental work
- Stopping the procedure any time the patient feels uncomfortable
- Frequently asking the patient for permission to continue
- Making time to stop for breaks as requested by the patient
- Offering a range of comfort measures
- Maintaining a patient, supportive and unhurried demeanor
- Harnessing the power of distraction via television programming or the use of iPods or other MP3 players during more intensive dental work
Taking just a few simple extra steps when treating those patients who suffer from dental fear and anxiety can mean the difference between a single, stressful appointment and a satisfied patient for life.