A trip to the dentist isn’t exactly the type of trip most people look forward to. In fact, the majority dread it. Not only because it disrupts normal routines but also because the entire experience is almost always uncomfortable, if not painful. It starts in the lobby, where people see the long line of patients, agitated kids, irritated moms, and constantly-on-the-phone yuppies. Then, it continues onto the dental chair, where patients are made to open their mouths for half an hour, hear drilling sounds, and see drills in their mouths. Feeling a little woozy, they will be advised that they come again next week—and basically go through all that again. Lucky is a dentist if a patient indeed returns given such a practice.

Although “relaxing” isn’t the first descriptive word you’d want your dental practice to be, you should exhaust all efforts to make dental visits more relaxed. This is one of the best ways you can guarantee return patients and new ones. That said, follow these tips to make patients’ checkups more relaxed:

1. Manage waiting times at the lobby

Long waiting times are notorious for making clinic visits uncomfortable. They prolong the agony of anxious patients and make people agitated for the time they’re wasting. One effective strategy to avoid this is to establish a policy for no-shows and late arrivals. Roll out a rescheduling scheme when a patient shows up 15 minutes late for their appointment. This can significantly reduce bottleneck in the lobby. Another strategy is to speed up the actual checkups. You’re probably using outdated practices, like using putty to take dental impressions. This takes longer than using intraoral scanners because there’s a high chance for error, not to mention the gagging reflex of some patients. Keep up with the times and use technology-advanced solutions for dental offices. Of course, make sure that these tools and equipment are well-maintained.

2. Create a mood-uplifting atmosphere in the clinic

Dentist showing a teeth modelLittle details that can easily be overlooked in the clinic, like sounds and smells, can dampen moods and ruin patient experience. Hence, be especially sensitive to these elements. Use acoustic panels in your reception area to drown out the chit-chats of people waiting in line. Consider installing such fixtures as well in the actual dentist’s office to cancel out drilling sounds and other uncomfortable noises. If you can play relaxing jazz sounds all throughout the clinic, that will be better. It also helps to use lavender or lemon aromas to help soothe the nerves of anxious patients. Be sensitive to the kind of lighting you’ll use and its placement as well.

3. Build rapport with your patients

It’s not enough to address the inconvenience resulting from poor workflow and interior design. You, the dentist, should also make an effort in making dental visits more relaxed for your patients. It’s important to get to know them so that you can cultivate long-lasting relationships with them. Yes, you have patient info on paper, but it’s different when you make an effort in letting them share their stories, dental problems that make them insecure, or hygiene practices they keep forgetting. When they’re able to relate with you on this level, you’re not just making the visit relaxing but also the practice more patient-friendly.

A dental visit is almost always dreadful for patients. However, that doesn’t have to be the case in your own clients. Remember these tips to build a no-hassle dental practice that patients will return to every now and then.