Here is how to help a patient who doesn't speak the same language as you. 

Ways to ease the anxiety of a patient who is a non-native English speaker

Ways to ease the anxiety of a patient who is a non-native English speaker


OMG Admin

September 08,2021

As a dentist, you have probably treated a diverse amount of patients who are from different nationalities and might speak other languages. The Center for Immigration Studies reports that 67.3 million residents in the United States speak another language other than English at home. 

Sometimes you may come across dental patients who do not speak the same language as you. This language barrier may pose some challenges, especially if the patient needs extensive dental care. To help you through this situation, our dental sedation certification team wants to share ways you can ease the anxiety of these patients and improve communication.

Why are people who speak another language scared of the dentist?

Going to the dentist can be an anxiety-filled experience for anyone. People can be scared to go to the dentist because of the pain they might experience or having needles poke them. However, patients who do not speak English or limited English face the fear of not being able to communicate. 

They could be scared about not being able to communicate their problems to the dentist. This miscommunication is a problem for both patient and the dentist. The dentist could misunderstand the problem and not give them the correct treatment. 

Ways to ease the anxiety of a patient who is a non-native English speaker

Hire an interpreter or bilingual staff member

Hiring an interpreter is one of the best ways to communicate with patients who do not speak the same language as you. These professionals will be able to communicate effectively between you and your patient. If your dentist's office does not have a budget for it, consider hiring a dental hygienist or office member who is bilingual


Ask a patient to bring a friend or family member

Another way to better communicate with patients is by letting them know they can bring a friend or family member who can interpret. Bringing someone they know will also help them feel less anxious about the whole process. Plus, that friend or family member can make sure they are keeping up with their dental treatment. 


Learn some basic words

If your office helps a large number of people who do not speak your language, consider learning some basic words. Learning how to greet your patient can put them at ease before starting the procedure. You can take a basic course online or check out resources. Crest and Oral-B have online resources that help dentists learn conversational Spanish in adult dentistry. This handy book contains commonly used Spanish vocabulary and phrases for the dental office. Plus, it comes with audio so you can hear the pronunciation. 


Offer minimal sedation

Another way to ease a patient’s anxiety is by offering minimal sedation. This kind of sedation is a prescribed medication that helps reduce anxiety in patients. One thing to remember is that in order to offer this kind of sedation, you need to keep up-to-date with the latest dental sedation certification. You can take an online minimal sedation course to acquire it. 

Need to get your dental sedation certification? 

Choose Midwest Sedation Consultants. Our minimal sedation courses are available online in eight different states including Nebraska, Kansas, Oregon, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. Register for a course here!