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How to Help Someone with Anxiety

I Dr. Suprriya B Bhatia, run a private dental practice by the name, ‘SMILE DELHI- THE DENTAL CLINIC’, in New Delhi, India. The reason I kept this name for my practice was, that it was my sincere intention and goal, that every patient who walks out of our clinic after treatment, has a smile on his or her face. This smile be a result of their ‘pleasant cared for’, experience during the dental treatment they underwent at our facility.

Now, after 17 years of practice, I am a very happy and satisfied dentist, because I am constantly meeting my goal, of making anxious patients comfortable, to get their dental treatment with us. This makes me feel very good as I know we contribute a whole lot of VALUE to the patient’s experience, which leverages our worth hugely.

Here is why scared, anxious patients not only land up getting their treatment with us with ease, but are ready to come back and refer other patients to us.

We give time to our patients.

Without meaning to sound immodest, I am not a mass dentist. I like to do 4 to 5 patients per day. It’s not the quantity, but the quality of the comprehensive dental experience which we are focusing on. So I like to give our 110 percent to these few dental patients, we schedule everyday. The reason I do this is because in my mind and psyche, if I want a patient to feel cared for, I should have the time to listen to him or her. Time is equal to care and compassion for me.

We follow an appointment schedule. Though our reception is not small, the waiting sofa is just enough for a couple of people, who may be accompanying the patients. The most uncomfortable feeling for me is when I am working on one patient and there is another one waiting outside.


I have experienced, because I listen to my patients’ fears and apprehensions in a calm, accepting manner it helps them get relieved of half the problem.

When the patients see that I

1:- Am not in a rush

2:- Not being judgemental

3:- Listening actively without being in a hurry to speak myself

4:- Am not giving explanations

5:- Asking specifically what the patient is scared and fearful of and addressing that particularly the patients feels reassured and less anxious.

After a calm patient listening and having understood what the patient’s reasons for fear and anxiety, we plan our sittings with the focus being to work together to alleviate the patient’s fears and not just get through with the treatment.

During the treatment we

1:- Explain how long the treatment will go on, what to expect, how will they feel

2:- Take their permission before starting the procedure and using a phrase like, ‘I am ready to proceed if you are’

3:- Tell them their pace is our pace

4:- Giving them frequent breaks and asking them if they are ok

5:- Giving them the freedom to communicate with us if they are uncomfortable by letting them raise their left hand

6:- Giving them the freedom that they can leave anytime, this makes them feel they are in control ; only 1 patient left in the last 17 years

7:- Psychologically distracting the patients by telling them to focus on their breath, inhale to the count of 3 and exhale to the count of 3 OR raising one leg to a certain height and keeping it at that height to the count of 10

We keep ourselves updated with the latest equipment and techniques of treatment.

Telling them how the technologically advanced equipment helps in reducing the time taken for treatment and makes it more easy and smooth and then walking the talk through the treatment, builds a trust in them.This also involves explaining them the new techniques of treatment eg earlier the root canal would be done in multiple sittings but now it is done in one sitting. Simple steps like, we use a gel to numb the mucosa before injecting. Some dentists use the gel, but donot wait for the required time for it to act and go ahead with the injection. This is because they are in a rush. It defeats the purpose of the gel as the injection hurts, since the gel has not acted. We spend a little extra to use the thinnest French needles. The narrower the gauge of the needle, the lesser the pain of penetration.


We at Smile Delhi, try to provide a peaceful happy clean environment in the clinic.

1-We play soft music.

2- Have the fragrance of the lemongrass oil instead of the typical smells of zinc oxide etc in the clinic.

3- We have a mix of the latest magazines and some dental booklets in the reception.

4-We allow a close friend or relative to accompany the patient and they can sit in the operatory, while the treatment is going on.

5- We even let patients choose what whey want to watch on the screen on the chair or hear whatever music they prefer. They are welcome to plug in their own cd player/I pod. The idea is to not overwhelm the patient with the atmosphere of a typical dental clinic.

Oral antianxiety pills

These are the last resort . Taking an anti anxiety pill the night before the treatment has a calmimg effect on the patient. These are Benzodiazepines eg Valium/Diazepam. However a person should be accompanied when he or she has taken such a pill. Driving is not allowed to such patients.

Being the head of the practice, I have made the above features an intrinsic part of the culture at Smile Delhi- The Dental Clinic. So the staff, auxiliaries, consultants are in sync.

Posted By – Dr. Suprriya B. Bhatia