Luckily, most of our younger patients are actually excited to get braces and they handle all their appointments with ease. For some adolescents, though, going to the orthodontist means anxiety and fear – not exactly an enjoyable experience.
But we want all of our patients to enjoy their time with us, so we take steps to make each visit, and treatment overall, as pleasant as possible. Here’s how we help our adolescent patients overcome their fear and anxiety.
Have you ever been on an airplane and hit unexpected turbulence? It can be scary, not knowing what’s going on. Then the captain gets on the intercom and explains what’s happening, why it’s happening, and what to expect next, and it’s suddenly less scary. We do the same thing. We take time to explain exactly what we’re doing and what our patients can expect step by step. We also encourage questions and are happy to take the time to answer them. Many times, this simple approach is enough to alleviate a patient’s anxiety.
A Slow Start
Another approach is to go slowly when it comes to treatment. For example, if we have a teen patient who’s nervous about getting braces, we may start by just putting on the top braces on and having them wear those for a few months before adding the lower braces. Or if an expander is required, we’ll have them wear the expander for a while to get used to it first before actually activating it.
Peace and Quiet
Like any medical office, our orthodontic office can at times be chaotic, with lots of people, equipment, and noise. We’ve found that for some patients, simply moving to a private room away from the hustle and bustle is a great way to help them calm down.
Some patients need a little more time to acclimate to the whole process, so we give them extra tender loving care. We give them time to get familiar with the office and let them touch and look at the tools we’ll be using. We have even had appointments in the past where we just show them the braces or other appliances we’ll be using, without actually putting them on. This slow desensitization process is helpful for patients with higher levels of anxiety or fear, and can be useful for our special needs patients.
Sympathetic Staff (Our Secret Weapon)
We couldn’t do what we do without our incredible team, and that’s especially true when it comes to calming nervous adolescent patients. Some of our team members are “child whisperers” who know exactly what to say to cut through the fear and anxiety. We consider them our secret weapon!
Taking the Time for a Positive Experience
As you can see, most of these approaches are simple, but we’ve found them to be very effective. The most important thing is that we recognize when one of our patients feels nervous and we take the time to customize their treatment. We want every one of our patients to have the best experience possible.