Playing With The Senses: How Dentists Calm Their Patients

Millions of Americans abhor dental consultations or treatments. Even those who are brave enough to set up appointments develop anxieties when they set foot inside their dentists' offices. Therefore, discerning dentists have come up with ingenious ways of ensuring that the sights, smells, and sounds of their dental officers don't assault their patients' senses. Here are three examples of measures taken by dentists to assuage their patients' anxieties:


The key to pleasant visual stimulation is to make the dental office not look like a dental office. Lots of people immediately develop anxiety when they walk into a dental practice and notice sharp instruments and dental coats right from the reception area.

For this reason, some dentists ensure that their reception area is visually appealing by using artwork (like paintings on the wall) and generally decorating their offices with welcoming décor. For example, you much find seats that are more suited to a residential living room than a dental practice.


Even if a dental office area isn't decked out like a typical dentist's office, the smell of the room can still betray its purpose. The smell of drugs, mouthwashes, anesthetics, antiseptics, and other dental treatment paraphernalia all combine to give a distinct dental office smell.

Discerning dentists go to great lengths to avoid or at least minimize that smell. Here are some of the techniques they use to make their offices

  • Using mouthwashes and anesthetics with pleasant smells
  • Keeping fresh and pleasantly smelling flowers in the office
  • Offering beverages to patients or their accompanying loved ones
  • Keeping their offices well ventilated to avoid stale smells

The combined effects of these measures can give a dental office a distinctively pleasant smell as opposed to the usual dreaded dental office smell.


Lastly, every dentist knows that the sense of hearing can also alert (consciously or subconsciously) a prospective client that they are entering a dental treatment area. A classic example of a dreaded dental office sound is the characteristic whir of the dental drill.  Again, some prospective patients develop cold feet just by hearing this sound. Fortunately, dentists have developed ingenious ways of masking such sounds; examples of these ingenious methods include:

  • Using sound proof walls to isolate the treatment area
  • Providing patients with noise cancellation headphones
  • Streaming soothing music through well-hidden speakers

If you have dental anxiety, then your consultation should be carried out in a neutral (or near neutral as it can be) surroundings. Look for a dentist who has gone to great lengths to ensure their patients feel calm and welcome.