Ten percent of all adults are categorized having some type of dental phobia and of all the options out there, dental anxiety is considered to be one of the most common fears. The stress caused by the sights, sounds and smells of a dental office may be too much for some patients to handle. In response, dentists are proactively making the efforts to make the experience more relaxing for patients in order to implement dental care.
According to a survey conducted by the American Dental Association, nearly 25 percent of all Americans avoid the dentist because of dental fear. While some of them may choose to try their own methods of minimizing dental anxiety, a professional dental dentist skilled in the art of reducing dental anxiety is the best line of defense.
Dental Schools Teaching Importance of Communication
Within the medical industry, doctors who tested poorly on patient-physician communication skills were far more likely to generate patient complaints to the authorities in charge (ScienceDaily.com). Those findings are not shocking as it is common knowledge that the right type of communication can bring positive results, while poor connection skills can cause misunderstandings, stress and anxiety. That is why dental schools are taking the time to educate dental professionals on the importance of bedside (in this case chair-side) manner.
At the New York University College of Dentistry, actors are being used to coach third year students on the best ways to interview patients (Wall Street Journal). The process involves actors receiving character information regarding a variety of dental problems and fears. The actors realistically portray patients suffering from dental woes such as dry mouth, fear of needles and other common scenarios. The students must then rely on a combination of their interviewing skills and dental know-how to develop the best course of action to deal with the dental scene being portrayed.
Seinfeld, introduced the concept of medical actors to a majority of America as ‘Cosmo Kramer’ was a medical actor in an episode entitled, “The Burning.” While the concept may seem based out of fiction, it is a real way to train students in both the medical and dental industries. Ultimately, the education will prepare students for dealing in real life scenarios calmly, professionally and kindly.
No two dental anxiety sufferers are identical and while the sight of a dentist office can trigger panic attacks in some, others may have a dental fear based on pain. In order to coax patients into their offices, some dentists are using the latest technology to make dental treatments of any nature virtually pain free.
Faster and more efficient drills are replacing older compressed air models. Some dentists have gotten rid of their drills altogether and now use air abrasion (where tiny particles of aluminum oxide or silica are blasted on affected areas) to for remove tooth decay and prep a tooth in preparation for treating dental caries. Topical anesthetics are readily applied from the get go to minimize any discomfort, even that of a simple dental exam and cleaning. Pain pathways can be blocked courtesy of technology that emits low-dose electrical pulses in lieu of traditional anesthetics.
In some cases, computer generated anesthesia can be used for patients dealing with a fear of needles. A highly popular device, called the Wand, “… relies on a small computer attached to a pen-like device to deliver a constant slow flow of dental anesthesia. That’s important because what causes that stinging feeling with a shot of local anesthesia is actually the pressure of the liquid entering your tissue, not the needle itself,” (WH Family Dental).
Creating a Soothing Atmosphere
Some patients may experience dental anxiety from the moment they step into a cold and sterile dentist office. In order to minimize that particular dental phobia, dentists are now taking the time to make their reception area inviting and soothing. Aromatherapy candles, soft music, plush couches and decor are some of the touches professional dentists are focusing on in order to minimize anxiety before a patient sits in the chair.
If you are a patient suffering from dental anxiety, WH Family Dental can help you find a dentist well versed in dealing with your particular fear, regardless of the cause. WH Family Dental screens all of our members in regards to education, experience and specialties and will use our knowledge to correctly matching you with the right dentist.