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30th January 2017

“I HATE THE DENTIST” .………. a common statement

I have heard this phrase so many times over the last 35 years, normally just as the patient walks in the room or via the reception team before.

People who say this are often those who don’t often attend and it is normally related to a pervious bad experience.

So why have they attended today? It is normally driven by pain which has become uncontrollable and are often accompanied by their partner, spouse, mother or such like. Mostly, the accompanied person has become weary of the moaning about the pain from the sufferer. They are normally the one responsible for booking the emergency appointment and brought the toothache victim to see me.

This is where the first impression counts and can turn that behaviour around and lead to the patient becoming a regular attender. I often say the first half hour we spend together is the most important, the patient needs to get to know me as much as I them.

Discussions between us will help me to understand what exactly it is that the patient is afraid of or worried about. Different things about going to the dentist trouble different people. It is important to establish what the issue is.

For some it is simply lying back in the chair so I would treat them with the chair raised a little, for others it is fear of ‘the needle’ … we use anaesthetic paste and warm solution to make things morecomfortable . Some people think I will treat them even if the tooth isn’t properly numb….I would not do that, it makes the patient unhappy, makes me very uncomfortable and makes good treatment impossible.

I once treated a lady that had a fear of sneezing during treatment, strange but we got past it when she realised that sneezing is not that common and maybe she sneezed just once a week and that it was very unlikely, of course we can normally tell by a person’s facial expression if this is imminent, she has been ok since this time.

The point about all of this is that communication between dentist and patient is key. Revealing a patients fear or concern will only help tailor how I treat them thus making their visit more satisfactory so they might even come back for more and be a regular attender.

I truly believe that treating people as individuals and taking the time to note their concerns makes a massive difference to how I can help time overcome ‘the hatred of the dentist’

Alan Pearson BDS

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