Being afraid of the dentist can mean different things to different people. Whereas some people get a little anxious, nervous or worried about their visit, others may experience full-blown panic attacks, deciding to avoid their dentist altogether. Not great for oral health, this can exacerbate any issues, turning a recommended dentist visit into essential surgery. With dental phobia affecting 1 in 4 people, we decided to look into why this is and suggest ways to make your patients’ visits as pleasant as possible.
WHAT CAUSES DENTAL PHOBIA?
The most common causes of dental phobia include:
Fear Of Pain: Usually stemming from a frightening dental or healthcare experience in childhood, this fear can also occur due to prior trauma to the head or neck.
Fear Of Injections: Whether that’s the needle itself, having injections inserted into the mouth or worry that the anaesthesia won’t work.
Fear Of Anaesthesia’s Side Effects: For example, dizziness, nausea, confusion and headaches.
Feelings Of Helplessness: Sitting in a dentist’s chair, being unable to move with various tools in your mouth can make some people extremely uneasy.
Other causes include self-consciousness, pre-existing conditions such as agoraphobia and claustrophobia and trust issues.
Signs of dental phobia include feeling physically ill when thinking about the dentist, trouble sleeping the night before scheduled visits and being unable to enter the clinic or office.
Though there may be different causes, everyone worries about their teeth and damaging them should they not visit. In fact, this can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If people know they have dental issues that should be treated, not going to the dentist will only worsen the condition and potentially lead to infection, decay and jaw problems. No fear is worth that, so what can be done to help patients feel better about their visits?
OUR TOP TIPS FOR CALMING YOUR PATIENTS’ NERVES.
We recommend giving your patients the following advice:
Find a dentist that you feel comfortable with, whether that’s one recommended by a family member or friend or one that is known to work well with nervous patients. Prior to your check-up, treatment or surgery, visit their office to familiarise yourself with the staff and the surroundings.
“Modern dental surgeries are much friendlier environments, with flowers in the waiting room, art on the walls, a pleasant reception area and polite staff’’ – Karen Coates, dental adviser at the British Dental Health Foundation
Pick an appointment time that will reduce your stress, such as straight after work or first thing in the morning to get it over and done with.
If possible, bring a friend along to distract you in the waiting room and be a source of support in the dental office.
Before your treatment, agree a sign with your dentist, such as holding your hand up, to indicate that you’d like a break or need them to stop.
Soothing music is known to reduce stress and increase relaxation, so bring an iPod, MP3 player or personal stereo along to listen to music during your visit. It’ll work wonders, drowning out the sounds of dental equipment.
If you’re afraid of needles, tell your dentist before your visit. There are anaesthetic gels that can be applied to your gum that will numb it, ensuring you don’t feel the needle.
Talking over their fears with you can help to, as well as showing them that you’ll take these fears into consideration by discussing treatment options.
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO TO HELP CALM MY PATIENTS’ NERVES?
A lot of fear can build up in the reception area or waiting room, so making this as welcoming as possible is a good idea. Along with Karen’s great suggestions, we recommend placing a water cooler in this space so that patients can benefit from a refreshing drink while they wait. Water is known to lessen anxiety, reduce stress and boost mood, therefore making a real difference to their dental experience.
At Choice Refreshments, we offer a fantastic selection of water coolers that place hygiene, taste and ease of use at their core. Trusted by clinics and health centres up and down the country, we ensure an eco-friendly and sophisticated alternative to many coolers on the market.
To find the perfect water cooler for your office, call us on 0845 3711 101 or visit our website today.