How to Prepare Patients for Dental Appointments

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For some patients, a trip to the dentist can cause a bit of stress, but as a Dental Assistant, you can make a big difference in how they feel about their appointment. To provide the best patient care possible, take these 7 steps to prepare patients for their exams.

1. Ask Questions Before the Dental Exam

Even before a patient steps into the dental office, you can get them prepared. As a Dental Assistant, you speak with the patient on the phone, remind them of their upcoming appointment, and go through pre-visit questions. You take a patient’s medical history, and ask about any current dental issues or concerns they may have about the visit. By gathering this information, you keep the dentists up to date on what they need to know about their patients, and you build rapport with the visitor and help make them feel more at ease.

2. Prep the Exam Room

Before you can prep your patients, you need to prepare the exam room. Exam rooms need to be cleaned at the start of the day and after every appointment. It’s your responsibility to sanitize surface areas, sterilize the instruments and equipment, and restock supplies like personal protective equipment (PPE) so everything is ready. Once you make sure all the necessary equipment is cleaned and in stock, you are ready to welcome your patients.

3. Create a Welcoming Environment

From the waiting room to the dental chair, the environment you create for your patients makes a difference in their overall experience. As a Dental Assistant, you’re usually the first person patients see. Your happy smile, warm attitude, and welcoming presence set the tone for everything that comes after. Make sure the waiting room is clean and comfortable. Provide magazines and other reading materials. Most of all, be available to answer questions, and offer empathy and reassurance.

4. Explain the Procedure

Confirm the details about the appointment. Take the time to make sure they understand what’s going to happen. For example, while your patient may be familiar with routine cleaning, they may have never experienced a root canal. Explain the procedure as best you can but be sure to note their concerns so the dentist can more fully educate the patient.

5. Prep for Procedures

Before procedures, you set up tools and equipment. Then you escort the patient to where they need to be and get them settled in. For example, if you’re going to take dental X-rays, you need to follow very specific steps. You set up the machine and get your patient comfortable and positioned correctly. Then it’s important to protect them from radiation with a lead apron and thyroid collar. The preparation is critical to safety and proper X-rays.

6. Offer Post-Exam Guidance and Support

Your work doesn’t end when your patients leave the chair. You take the results from the procedure and provide that information in a digestible way to then. You may need to explain follow-up care or go over good oral hygiene practices. And you may need to schedule additional appointments. You want to make sure that your patient knows the proper post-exam care steps they need to take to maintain their happy, healthy smile.

7. Update Medical Records

To get ready for the next appointment, you need to update the patient’s medical records now. Make sure the details of the visit are properly recorded, and if it’s needed, update the calendar for their next visit. On top of this, you should take this time to update any new or changed information like contact, insurance, and treatment plans. Maintenance of these records ensures every visit goes smoothly.

Do you want to work in an industry where you help others look and feel their best with a healthy smile? Dental assisting might be the career for you. At Charter College, we offer a Certificate in Dental Assisting that can prepare you for entry-level work in the industry. The program can be completed in as few as 10 months and is offered in a blended learning format that couples online and hands-on instruction. Call 888-200-9942 or fill out the form to learn more.