Calming patients’ fears about the dentist

Calming patients' fears about visiting the dentist

It’s all-too common among some patients to feel some anxiety about visiting the dentist. Although routine dental treatment is crucial for maintaining healthy teeth and gums, and isn’t any more dangerous than seeing any other type of doctor, some people are simply wary of their teeth.

Pointing to an old study from West Virginia University, Mother Nature Network explained that people’s fear of pain associated with drilling is the primary factor making them hesitant to visit the dentist. But the WVU researchers noted that this is not a good reason for a person to avoid setting up an appointment to have his or her dental health checked. Putting that off could eventually lead to the loss of teeth, which is part of what prompted the WVU to conduct this survey. MNN quotes lead investigator Daniel McNeil, who explained that the Mountain State has one of the worst problems with people over the age of 45 losing their teeth in the U.S.

Recently, a news provider out of Lafayette, Indiana examined the issue of dental fear. Dr. Cameron Mohr, D.D.S. told Jconlone.com that some patients may have memories of painful experiences at the dentist, and therefore put off scheduling new appointments. What they don’t realize, Mohr explained, is that many new innovations in sedation dentistry prevent patients – even if they’re undergoing procedures that could be quite uncomfortable – from so much as remembering the experience.

“We want to break that fear cycle,” said Mohr, according to Jconline.com.

How to soothe nervous patients
As all of the best dentists are surely already aware, there are many simple steps that help ensure patients aren’t freaking out during an examination. Entire web sources have been dedicated to the subject – Dental Fear Central, for one. Just like Dr. Mohr, DFC noted that maintaining solid communication between dentists and patients is the most effective way to undermine the fears of unsettled subjects. Patients shouldn’t think of their dentists of as boogeymen, but professionals who are there to help keep them from developing any serious dental diseases. Meanwhile, dentists should make an effort to develop a rapport with their patients. After all, if the dentist doesn’t ask a patient if he or she has some phobias, how will he or she know to help the patient cope?

The surrounding environment could also contribute to, or help alleviate a patient’s fears, according to DFC. Keeping the dental clinic from looking too much like, well, a dental clinic by hanging paintings on the walls and keeping instruments stashed out of sight will likely make nervous patients feel more comfortable.

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