Southern Ontario Dental College

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Easing Their Fears: 4 Dental Hygienist Tips for Treating Difficult Patients

Posted in Articles, Dental Assistant, Dental Hygienist.

Fear of visiting the dentist is real, affecting around 16 percent of people. It stems from fear of pain, discomfort, or dislike of sitting with one’s mouth open. Trust issues also form over time from bad experiences at the dental office.

As a dental hygienist, you’ll likely come across patients who have phobias of the dentist. They can be anxious, or they can even make you feel uncomfortable with their hostility. But dealing with difficult patients is something you have to learn to do.

How to Deal with Difficult Patients as a Hygienist

Are you afraid you won’t be ready to deal with difficult dental patients when the time comes? Don’t stress. Here are some tips on how to make patients feel comfortable.

1. Don’t Brush Them Off

One of the biggest things people with anxiety don’t want is for it to be brushed off. This means, telling an anxious person they’ll be fine, or to calm down.

Instead, listen to their fears. Let them talk and tell you the exact reason for their anxiety. This creates trust, and you’ll have a better idea of how to proceed without triggered feelings.

2. Talk Them Through What You’re Doing

For most people, fear of dental procedures is fear of the unknown. They can’t see what you can, so the imagination runs wild with possibilities.

To combat this fear, tell them what you’re about to do. With ever tool you pick up, explain how it’s used. Also, don’t dive into their mouth without giving them a heads up.

You can even teach them techniques to control their anxiety. This is an acceptable way of helping them through the anxious feelings.

3. Rise Above Their Level

Here’s the thing, sometimes it isn’t about you. You can do everything right and still have an angry patient on your hands.

The thing to remember here is that you shouldn’t stoop to being rude back. This only takes away from your own professionalism. Instead, stay calm and present the facts. They can’t stay angry if they have no fuel for their fire.

If they don’t stop, you could try giving them some space or directing them to reschedule. The reason is that having them under those conditions could make the procedure go bad. And you don’t want the liability of hurting an already angry patient.

4. Bring in Someone Else

When people argue with the same person over and over, almost nothing you do will help. This might be a good time to bring in someone else who is “neutral.”

This other person could be a fellow hygienist, the doctor, or even someone in reception. Whoever it is, make sure their informed and won’t cause more confusion.

If you think it would help, you could even step out of the room while they discuss the issue.

More Dental Hygiene

We all understand the anxiety that comes with a trip to the dentist office. But it’s different when you’re the one dealing with the difficult patients yourself. Remember, they’re afraid, and you’re the only person who can help them understand you won’t hurt them.

Are you getting ready to graduate from your dental program? Here are 5 tips for getting a job as a hygienist.

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