Dental Fear or Dental Phobia is a very common Type of Phobia associated with Dentists and White coats in General. We can simply put Dental Fear as the persons inner fear of facing a Dentist or Dental Clinic without any proper reason or cause or sometimes it can be as the patient has not had any prior encounter with any Dentist.
- There are many types of Dental Phobias: Types of Dental Phobias
You need to remember that there is a major difference between Dental Fear and Dental Phobia:
- Dental Fear is the fear in a person after getting a traumatic experience at the Dental Clinic
- Dental Phobia is an inner fear without any prior bad experience or sometimes no interaction with the dentist at all
The various causes of Dental Phobia in a Dental Clinic are – Fear of needles, fear of pain, the sound from the drill, fear of smell, fear of loss of control from the dentist (sharp instruments being used very close to the vital organs of the face), fear that the anesthesia wont work.
Here is am going to List out a few steps which as a Dentist we should take to help a patient with Dental Fear or Dental Phobia:
Few Tips on How to help patients Overcome Dental Fear or Phobia:
Dental Clinic or Office Environment Look and Smell: The first thing a patient comes in contact with when he/her visits a dentist is the Dental Office environment. The Dentist Environment comprises of the Appearance, Sound and Smell of the Dental Clinic. Here are some tips which will help reduce Patient fear or anxiety on visiting the Dental Clinic:
1 – Avoid making the waiting room look like a hospital, use bright lively colors.
2 – Have Television, Magazines, Video Games for children, a small play area if you are a Pedodontist.
3 – Do not keep any photos depicting Surgeries or Photos which include your treatment procedures which can bring fear in your patients mind.
4 – Make your patient feel comfortable, have a good spacious waiting room with good comfortable furniture.
5 – Always maintain good Smell around your Dental Clinic, smell of Spirit is a major deterrent in many patients. Use room perfumes and maintain a common smell all around your clinic.
6 – Place an Aquarium in your living room, this is found to provide relief from anxiety and stress just by looking at the fish swim and by the sound of water.
Dental Staff and Dentists Friendly Attitude: This is the most important factor in helping a patient suffering with Dental Fear or Phobia get over it. The interaction of Patients with the Dental Staff like the Receptionist, Dental Hygienist, and the Dentist are the main aspects which the patient will have in mind when he/she visits the Dentist again.
1 – Have a Friendly Receptionist, who can greet the patient and make him understand why the dentist is being late and not get anxiety get to the waiting patient (i have seen many patients leave from waiting room, because of bad receptionist behavior)
2 – Train your Dental Hygienist well, in cases where you do not interact with the patient, make sure you do not over power the patient and the patient should be given his/her freedom.
3 – Tell the patient that in case of any discomfort he/she can raise their hand to let the dentist know.
4 – The Dentist plays the most important role in modelling the patient’s fear towards dental clinic, first the patient should be counseled by the dentist and explained that there is nothing to fear before going into Dental Treatment.
5 – “Listen to the Patient” this is the main aspect which will give a positive impact to the patient that the Dentist will listen and understand his/her problem and give the correct treatment.
Slow and Steady Treatment with Tell-show-do Technique: After you have patiently heard the patients problems and coming to a diagnosis it is the Dentists duty to patiently explain the Patient about the problem and what treatment plan is necessary.
1) While Starting the Treatment tell the patient that in case of any discomfort he/she can raise their hand to let the dentist know, who can then stop the treatment and find out the patients problem.
2) During the Treatment the dentist should explain each step in detail and in some patients each instrument should be explained why they are used for.
3) If you follow the Tell-Show-Do technique the patient will get a positive impact that he will be knowing what the dentist is going to do.
4) The main importance of this Tell-Show-Do technique is that the patient is not “Surprised”
Use of modern Dental Equipment: Use Modern dental equipment which will help the patient in decreasing his/her anxiety.
- Use Dental Drills which make less Sound – Electric hand pieces.
- Use of hand switches or buttons which can be pressed by the patient in case of any discomfort during the dental treatment.
- Use of Laser Dentistry which is Sound less and Pain less.
Sedation Dentistry: This should be the last step as i never prefer Sedation unnecessarily in patients. Sedation is of various types, Inhalation Sedation with Nitrous Oxide, Sedation through IV. Sedation should be a last resort which should be used in patients who cannot be controlled with the above mentioned techniques.
Hypnosis or Hypnodontia: Hypnosis is being used in Dentistry to control of relieve Dental Phobia or to help in achieving Dental Anesthesia better from many years. It is found to be a very useful tool in your day to day practice.