It is commonly known that many do not like going to the dentist. One of the most common statements made to me by my patients is “Doc, I really don’t like going to the dentist”.
There are numerous reasons why fear is a factor when going to the dentist. It can be a prior bad experience, especially as a child, stories heard from others regarding their experiences and most importantly, fear of the unknown.
To compensate for any of these concerns, an important factor is to “show and tell” to patients what they can expect from their visits.
Since patients do not see (and many do not want to see) procedures performed and these procedures are performed by the dentist outside of patient’s control, many feel vulnerable and fearful. There are simple steps that can be taken by dentists to ensure patient comfort and a drastic reduction in patient’s “white knuckle” syndrome. This is a terminology which depicts a fearful patient grabbing the dental chair armrests so hard where his/her hands and knuckles turn white.
A few simple steps which we follow can be taken to reduce and eliminate patient fear and phobia.
- Show and tell: I explain to patients and let them understand the procedure I am about to perform so that the anticipation of the unknown is reduced.
- Put the patient in control: I always advise my patients to raise their hand anytime they feel pain, discomfort, restless or for any other reason they need me to stop.
- Getting to know my patients: I am a firm believer of spending time to get to know my patients in person, their expectations as well as their dental, oral and/or bad breath conditions. Diagnosis is extremely important. Proper diagnosis leads to proper care. This only happens by a detailed first appointment with the patient. This means spending quality one-on-one time with patients and staying away from “production-line” dentistry.
As a global rule a dentist should treat every patient as he/she would treat his family members…with care!