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Dealing with Dental Fear

 

Dental fear is a no reason to avoid treatment, we can help treat patients with dental phobia to overcome their fears successfully.

What Can Help? – Ways of Tackling Dental Fears

There are three main things that can help with overcoming dental phobias and fears:

1. Psychological – the way the dentist acts and communicates, and specific techniques dentists can use to help

2. Technology and Gadgets – new and not-so-new inventions which can make dental treatment more enjoyable and comfortable for the patient

3. Sedation – using drugs to make you feel relaxed.

For dentists, there is also a fourth way, and that is local anaesthesia technique (giving comfortable and effective numbing). Both myself and Dr. Barry pride ourselves in our ability to administer pain free injections and it is something patients greatly appreciate.

The way you tackle your fears needs to be tailored to you as an individual. But generally speaking, we can look at tackling fears (or “dental anxiety management” in dentist-speak) as being a bit like a pyramid:

Dental Anxiety Pyramid

How to help people cope with their fear

 

The Environment

The dental environment, despite being of such huge importance, is often overlooked when it comes to dental anxiety. The environment sets the tone for the whole dental experience – first impressions do count! While we cannot do away with modern dental equipment, many people with dental fears find it really important that the rest of the room doesn’t have a “clinical” feel to it. This means, for example, instruments being hidden from sight as much as possible, artwork instead of photos of smile makeovers, friendly colour schemes, music playing in the background, dentists and staff not dressing in traditional medical outfits, and doing away with the “typical” smells associated with dentistry as far as possible.

Communication

The foundation of the pyramid is communication. This means the way your dentist interacts with you (and the way you interact with your dentist). You need to feel at ease with your dentist if you want to overcome your fears, and your dentist needs to know what your fear is and how they may be able to help you. Communication also means things like rapport, body language, and using non-threatening language that you can understand. Rapport also implies a relationship of equals, where you don’t perceive your dentist as a threatening or a condescending figure, but as a partner in your care. Communication means that you do things together with your dentist, rather than your dentist doing things to you.

You should only move on to more concrete techniques and options once rapport has been established.

The least invasive approach – that is, psychological techniques – should be considered and tried first.

Psychological Approaches

Simply means that your dentist will let you gradually get used to new, unfamiliar things, take things slowly, explain things to you, let you know what they are doing and what to expect, and so forth.

An integral part of this approach is that any treatment is delivered comfortably and gently.

IV Sedation

On the other hand, IV sedation may be better suited to those who are more willing to entrust control to another person. It can produce a level of sedation so deep that you may not remember much, or even nothing at all, of what happens during treatment.

IV sedation can also be a good option if you need lots of work done and you are really worried about it. In this case, you might be better served getting things under control using IV sedation, and then experiment with other methods when you require just a bit of maintenance work such as examinations and cleanings.

Technology and Gadgets

Also, there have been some exciting technological advances and innovations which can really help with specific fears. For example, the dental vibe has been a real blessing for people with needle phobia, who in the past might have opted for sedation. Handpieces (“drills”) have become quieter and here at docklands dental all of our and handpieces use ceramic bearings instead of stainless steel which makes the drilling process more comfortable.

We pride ourselves in our ability to treat anxious and nervous patients at docklands dental in a relaxed and caring environment, so if you would like to schedule a free no obligation consultation, contact a member of our dental team today.

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