Every dentist is seeking dental practice growth these days. Many are focusing on clever advertising strategies with Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok. These are, of course, crucial avenues with which to reach your customers, and the professionals like CCG exist to assist your dental practice growth in these areas.
But in all of that, sometimes the basics of truly knowing and studying our customers are forgotten. In the end, everything comes down to getting people through the door and into the dental chair. Although many people need more information, not everyone is truly unaware of the need for dental procedures. Many people know, but they are genuinely afraid. This perennial problem of dentistry has never gone away.
Focusing on dental fear (and maybe more specifically, dental fear triggers) may give your practice the chance to brand itself and stand out, leading to more dental practice growth as you reach prospective patients at their fundamental point of resistance to seeking the treatment they need. Sixty-one percent of phobic patients attribute their fear to a conditioning experience so if you can promise them a positive experience and then actually fulfill that promise, the chances of your having gained a lifetime customer are high.
Fear of dentists and dental procedures has probably been around as long as there has been dentistry. It is certainly a very real problem. According to PubMed Central, 36% of the population suffers from dental anxiety and another 12% suffer from extreme dental anxiety. This means that approximately half the population feels a fairly significant degree of anxiety about their visits.
Combating Fear Trigger Points for Dental Practice Growth
This is not news to any dentist. We are used to being muttered at in the chair and seeing our patients’ less-than-enthusiastic expressions in the waiting room. Many dentists do seek to address this through advertising the option of anesthesiology, calming medication, etc. Combating their customers’ dental phobia at its trigger point, however, is not usually considered when dentists think about dental practice growth, probably because many dentists think that there is little they can do.
But perhaps we could use the wealth of knowledge that scientists have gathered about the mind and its associations to prevent the initial triggering of our patients’ fears. Perhaps if we could replace even just a few of the normal sensations of a dental visit with something different, we could begin to break down the learned behavior of our phobic patients. With such a large percentage of the population fearing the dentist, even small changes in this direction could pay large dividends.
Dental offices tend to be fairly uniform, so here are some ideas for changing the experience in the waiting room into something a phobic patient might not have a box for. Even if the experience on the chair is largely what they had expected, the memory of the pleasant, exotic waiting room will still be with them.
- Aromatherapy in your office. (Patients suffering from dental anxiety are often highly triggered by smells.)
- Beverage station in your office. (Having suitable drinks for the season at one’s elbow always makes one feel more at home.)
- Electronic check-in on an office tablet. (The familiar clipboard of paperwork is a trigger that is easily replaced with something sleeker and more modern. This can reduce pressure as well since it feels more familiar especially to young people.)
- Water features in your office. (Running water is a well-known stress reliever that is relatively rare in dental offices.)
- Consider having your team dress in something besides scrubs, or at the very least, make sure that brands and logos are prominently featured on your associates’ attractive attire in order to lend a less utilitarian air than is normally seen in offices.
Why not harness the power of the Information Age and make reaching people at their points of fear a method of dental practice growth? Why not make it a mission to ask your patients, friends, family, and really anyone what exactly triggers their dental fears? What are the negative images that they associate with going to the dentist? Why not invest some time and work into formulating questions about their actual thoughts when they consider seeking treatment? Then, use these questions in customer surveys and questionnaires as well as in your own polling of friends and family in person and online.
Then, having gathered that information, DO NOT let it simply molder away on a hard drive somewhere! USE IT! Here’s a three-step guide to doing that.
- Make a conscious effort to counter in your procedures any and all fears, stereotypes, and paranoia triggers that your patients have identified.
- Incorporate this focus as a primary part of your branding identity.
- As you widely disseminate your brand, explain in all your advertising the difference that your approach could make to all prospective patients, whether they suffer from dental phobia or not.
Perhaps this would be something concrete that we could do that would move the needle on a problem, namely dental fear, that probably costs the dental industry far more than we realize.
This would certainly be better than simply hoping that enough people swallow their terror because of their pain or are lured in by deep discounts.
We live in exciting times and with so much to learn in every field of dentistry, excuses do not exist for not moving forward. For more help on attaining the dental practice growth that you desire to see, reach out to Client Connection Group today.