Eight Tips to Ease Fears of The Dentist

“We cater to cowards.” Perhaps you’ve seen these words on a poster in your dentist’s office. Dentists are aware of just how daunting and frightening a trip to the dentist can be for many people. Recent studies by the University of Washington and the Columbia Dental School found that roughly half of all Americans don’t visit the dentist out of fear. This means that about 30 to 40 million people avoid seeing a dentist every year. However, there is good news for those who dread a routine visit to the dentist.

With the growing prevalence of tooth decay, oral cancer and gum disease, neglecting your dental health is an endangerment not only to your teeth, but also to the health of the rest of your body. Not many people realize that the tissue and nerves found in your mouth are connected to other parts of the body. Blood that makes its way to the teeth and gums also flows to other parts of the body, making good oral hygiene a necessity to maintain the optimal health of your body.

Easing patients’ fears

To ease patients’ fears of trips to the dentist, there are a number of things dentists can do. Studies suggest that inviting patients for a pretreatment visit may help ease patients’ fears. During a pretreatment visit, the patient has the opportunity to talk with the dentist and realize that he or she is a real person, and not someone who intentionally wants to inflict pain.

It may also help to give patients a certain degree of control over the visit. Rather than just performing dental procedures on a patient, allow the patient to play an active part by signaling the dentist when the pain gets too intense. This can be done by lifting a finger.

Distraction techniques

Distraction techniques are an integral part of treatment for phobias. This is why it may be helpful to use distraction techniques on dental patients. Generally, patients feel an overwhelming sense of fear, so it may help to play music or have a TV in the procedure room to take away patients’ fears.

Professionalism

As with any career field, it is important to exude professionalism. Explain to patients that you see people with the same dental concerns every day. Be sensitive to you’re a patient’s fears, and they will be more likely to trust you. It may also help to introduce new dental innovations such as cosmetic procedures into your practice. This distracts patients and makes them feel like you have something great to offer, other than pain.

It is important that pediatric patients feel comfortable. Advise parents to play an active role in prepping their children for a trip to the dentist. Parents can show their children what to expect by getting them to brush their teeth or place fingers in their mouth.

Ask patients to cast aside any preconceived notions or stereotypes they may have about the dentist. This will help patients relax.

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