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Tips on how to care for patients with dental phobia

Tips on how to care for patients with dental phobia

You’ve certainly heard of having a dental phobia and if not it is the exaggerated fear of going to the Dentist. Did you know that, according to some authors, about 8% to 15% suffer from this condition? The rest associates visits to the dental office with a sensation of malaise or anxiety. In most cases dental phobia originates from some traumatic experience in the dental office, which can occur from:

  • Complications in procedures
  • Painful treatments or
  • Negative interactions with the dentist, if the doctor was too cold or indifferent.

Personal experiences in the office are not the only cause of dental fear. Third-party stories with traumatic experiences or negative portraits of dentistry in series or movies also contribute to a negative effect on dental phobia. This fear often prevents many patients from visiting the dental office on a regular basis or even neglecting daily oral hygiene, which leads to problems such as poor periodontal health or tooth decay.
In this blog post, we would like to share with you some tips on how to care for patients who are afraid to go to the dentist.

1 – Before you start: The environment in the clinic.


The clinical environment plays a significant role in triggering dental fear or anxiety. It is essential that receptionists, nurses and dental hygienists create a comfortable environment. Personnel should behave in a positive and friendly manner, never ask the patient for information in a hurried manner. Playing soft music, avoiding strong lights and using calm tones also help to make the environment less threatening.
In addition, it should be noted that the anxious patients do not wait too long, as this way they have less time to witness negative third party experiences and additionally, longer queues give them time to remember intimidating stimuli.

Something very important to take into account is the acoustic isolation of the cabinet, as the sounds emitted by the cabinet are usually a strong trigger of anxiety.
 

2 – First steps: Communication is the key.

During the first consultation, you should strive to create a trusting relationship with the patient, always ensuring that their feelings of anxiety are completely normal and avoiding negative phrases.

In addition, the dentist must:

  • Introduce yourself and talk  quietly and personally with the patient,
  • Listen to the patient attentively and calmly, without judging or diminishing their fears and anxieties,
  • Keep the patient informed of what you will do and encourage him/her to ask questions about the treatment, even during it,
  • Always ask if you are experiencing any discomfort and give moral support during treatment,
  • Give all necessary information about the problem, treatment options and prevention procedures.

The patient must be convinced that his concerns are taken seriously and that he can trust the dentist. Clear, honest and straightforward answers are ideal, and always remember to avoid false guarantees, which damages trust.
Non-verbal communication should also not be forgotten. Touch can be a good way to comfort or control the patient. Your dentist should always maintain eye contact and show that you are watching. Avoid sudden movements and empathize with the patient: to describe the procedure use words that are easy and that the patient can understand.

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