I hear that comment so very much in our Shelby Township, Michigan general dental practice. Because we take pride in taking care of our dental phobic patients it is necessary to have compassion on those who utter these words out of their mouths.
Dental fear usually is the result of just one or many bad dental experiences. Whether it is:
- from a painful injection,
- the smell of the drill or smell of the dental office
- the noise associated with the dental procedure
- the odor of the dentist
- pain during the entire dental procedure where the dentist would not stop even thought the patient made it clear that they needed to stop.
- or even being slapped by the dentist. (Which is child abuse now).
These are only a few of the reasons why having a trip to the dentist imparts fear through the mind of many. Just the thought of the dentist raises blood pressure, pulse rates and anxiety sets in. All of the previously mentioned responses are from a lack of control and an invasion into someones personal space.
Lack Of Control- When a patient first shows up in the office I usually hear them give a history that the dentist did horrible things to them at a young age which made them vouch that they will never put themselves in the situation again. They usually told their parents what happened but the parents didn’t validate their experience, which made them stuff their feelings down so no one would know. After many years of toothaches, avoidance and pain they make an appointment, pull up into the parking lot and then just leave. This is true fear and is so real to the wounded individual.
Invasion of one’s personal space- This is a real occurance that many encounter. There is an invisible space around us where we feel comfortable allowing others to encroach into that space. For example, we will allow someone we are personal with such as our children or a spouse to get much closer to us than a complete stranger. Dentists are complete strangers to us especially when it is our first visit. I always ask the question “Why should we as dentists assume it is ok to invade this personal space with sharp instruments that could hurt the person”? It isn’t OK to do this until permission is granted and there is a certain level of confidence and trust. That only takes place over time and at a slow rate.
At our office we take our time at the first visit to just talk and to work on creating a good new experience. Even before the initial appointment I will call the patient to welcome them to discuss their fears, answer their questions and to just say “Hi”. This helps reduce the fear of the first visit. High anxiety patients may require that we just give them a tour of the office. Since we are digital we don’t smell like a dental office or even look like a dental office. During a dental visit our objective is to:
- Provide headphones for those who don’t want to hear what is going on
- Nitrous oxide for those who just need a little of anxiety control
- Oral sedation for those who don’t want to remember the appointment and to enter the appointment in a total relaxed state.
- Use extremely strong topical anesthetic so the shot is not felt.
It takes a lot of time, patience and compassion to team up with those who have been scarred from bad dental experiences and what is necessary is a dentist and dental team who are willing to have a desire to change this person around. It is my true belief that we are the dental office who can treat the high fear patient located in Washington Township, Sterling Heights, Macomb Township, Clinton Township and Shelby Township, d Michigan. Call our office at 586-247-3500 or visit our website at www.TheGentleDentist.com.