By Zarah Strong
According to 2019 population estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, millennials officially surpassed baby boomers as the largest living adult generation in the United States. Spanning between the ages of 23 and 38, millennials are currently the largest generation driving progress and change in the world around us.
They’ve gradually changed the way people shop for cars, clothes, and food. The millennial generation has transformed the way consumers access music, books, and movies. It was only a matter of time until this generation had an impact on the dental profession. As it relates to dental professionals, understanding how to appeal to this socially conscious and consumer savvy patient will lead to a more appealing and alluring environment for patients of all ages.
Adapting for Millennials
Appealing to millennial patients goes beyond online appointment scheduling and target marketing. Millennials expect their dentist to provide services that are comfortable, sustainable and, above all, trustworthy. They don’t want to step foot into a dentist office that evokes anxiety through a cold, sterile atmosphere. While dental practices aren’t often seen as spa-like, there has been recent revolution in the dental profession to incorporate more soothing, calm and relaxing surrounds.
A DentaVox study recently discovered that more than 60% of those surveyed had dental fear beyond generational divides. While some noted fear of the pain, others feared the sound of the drill and the chemicals used during dental procedures. Regardless of the specific fears noted in this survey, it was clear that dental appointments bring stress and anxiety to a majority of the population across all generations.
A Zanesville practice has gone so far as to include a lovable therapy dog for their patients. If you’re not quite ready to incorporate a furry friend, there are still several ways you can comfort patients through smart office design.
Design Your Office with Relaxing Colors
In an effort to give patients the comfort they desire while creating an atmosphere millennials seek, dental practices are undertaking various cosmetic makeovers. Gone are the days of boring white or grey walls, and outdated clinical décor. Savvy dentists are now putting more thought into the color scheme of their offices.
A recent article by the American Dental Association (ADA) on choosing a color scheme for dental practices mentions the principals of Faber Birren, a noted scholar of applied color psychology. Birren suggests that colors in the workplace can relieve fatigue and contribute to a more cheerful mentality, as well as improve efficiency and visibility.
Taking that into consideration, warm tans and light pastels will provide a calming effect, while colors such as orange and bright yellow can be overstimulating in a medical office. A good place to start is with your intuition. Sample paint colors in the actual space before fully committing to one. Natural and artificial lighting as well as wall texture will impact the final shade the color takes in the space.
Stylish Office Art
Dental offices that limit themselves to informational posters, or altogether avoid thought on office décor, are missing a significant opportunity to properly welcome patients into their practice. Over time, paper posters can begin to fade and tear, which can bring down the overall appearance of the space. However, upgrading to quality art is relatively affordable. Good art can easily be found at a number of online sites. Better yet, look for local artists to support. Networking your dental practice in the local arts community can lead to further benefits down the road.
A rising trend in the dental community is to make a routine cleaning feel like a trip to the spa. According to the ADA, patients can benefit tremendously from stress-reduction techniques, particularly those with anxiety and heart conditions. These stress reduction techniques include:
- Music headphones and entertainment (movies, virtual reality goggles)
- Neck pillows
- Massage and relaxation therapy
- Concierge services
- Traditional cosmetic spa services with the aid of specialists
- Smile ‘makeovers’ and dental cosmetic procedures
There are many spa elements that can turn the operatory and waiting room into a five-star spa that will attract millennial patients to your practice. It’s simply a matter how far you’d like to expand into this area, as cosmetic dental work is shown to increase productivity.
Your patients’ anxiety starts to build in the waiting room, so ditch the classic, plastic waiting room chairs lined along the wall. Instead, you should incorporate family style seating with comfortable chairs and couches.
A bubbling fountain or vibrant aquarium accomplishes two goals, it looks pretty and soothing while also helping to drown out the noise. Patients who fear the sound of a drill will appreciate this. The use of relaxing spa music is considered music therapy and can reduce anxiety and fear in patients.
Will this Trend Stick Around?
Millennials will continue to need dental work, therefore this trend is anticipated to last. In fact, it’s expected to grow in popularity over the next few years as more and more dental offices incorporate services that align with the demands of millennial patients and their growing families. Taking steps towards a more relaxing spa type setting is simple to begin right away and will increase the overall patient experience and productivity of your practice.
Author: Zarah Strong is professional website copywriter and content strategist. She has written interior design, health, and finance blogs for more than 400 companies.