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Fear of visiting the dentist is so common that it has become something of a trope in films and fiction. Though the cultural reaction to getting dental work is exaggerated in media there are many legitimate reasons why people have such issues.

There is a natural nervousness around visiting any kind of health center, but going to the dentists can be especially traumatic due to the nature of dental work. These traumas range from embarrassment over bad dental hygiene to the intense, conscious pain of tooth extraction.

The intimate nature of dentistry can make this especially hard, causing tension in the patient which can make any procedure more difficult. If these tensions are not addressed, there’s the risk that a patient continues to avoid the dentist which means lengthier procedures as their dental health deteriorates.

Here are a few tips to dispel a patient’s fear of dental work.

Pre-surgery

Create a comforting atmosphere.

It can be difficult to strike a balance between a clinically safe room and a friendly atmosphere. But a few comforting pictures, soft lighting or even a couple of magazines can put a patient at their ease.

Understand your patient’s fears.

You should encourage your patient to elaborate on their nervousness about the procedure. Find out relevant medical history. You’ll have a greater opportunity to reshape these fears once you understand them.

 Ask Questions.

Before beginning a procedure, you should ask exhaustive questions until the patient feels that they’ve explained everything. “Though some of the information may be irrelevant, the patient will know that you have a full picture of their health and issues around dental hygiene,” – explains Barbara Joyner, a Health writer and editor at Writinity and Draft beyond.

 Reassure.

Being able to listen is important for the surgeon, but for the patient, it is important that the surgeon shows they have understood. It is, therefore, a good idea to summarize everything that has been communicated by the patient.

Explain the Procedure.

There may be some details which the patient will find distressing, but less distressing than enduring surprises during the surgery. It is here that you can discuss with your patient a process of communication if they need a break or need to say something.

During surgery

 Encourage relaxation techniques.

Whilst the clinical side of surgery and pain management is important, it’s also vital to utilize relaxation techniques. Encouraging your patient to regulate their breathing and employ focus over their body will keep them alert but also calm during the procedure.

Offer different pain management methods.

We understand that each individual reacts differently to medication and sedatives. Your patient might have a better grasp of what has worked in the past for them in terms of these, so offering a range might speed up the procedure and give your patient a reassuring degree of control.

Distract.

Distraction is very important in the patient’s ability to manage pain. Hopefully, you’ll have arranged your posters and decoration to aid your patient in distracting themselves. “If you sense that your patient might be focussing too much on the procedure itself, you can give them something to do. This doesn’t have to be complex tasks – squeezing a ball, for instance, is a tried and tested method,” says Larry Ash, a Health blogger at Lastminutewriting. 

Radio or music.

Having a radio or something to play music offers both a distraction and a reassurance. A familiar friendly voice of a DJ can help to reassure, and the patients desire to hear the patterns in the music can help to distract them 

Check in regularly.

Having established a method of communication, you should encourage them to respond regularly. Keeping them informed of how things are going will not only let them know where they are in the procedure but will also show that you are happy with how the procedure is going.

Post surgery

Encourage regular consultations.

Once you’ve completed the procedure you should continue to encourage your patient. It’s important to offer good aftercare to ensure the patient returns at regular intervals.

If there are more procedures to be done, encourage regular check-ins and give time-frames.

You may find that there is more work to be done, and in this case it is especially important that you offer time-frames and regular check-ins. Showing that you are prepared to do what’s best for a patient will combat any latent fears about dental surgery.

About the author: Charles Phan is a marketing graduate who writes content for Gum Essays and Lucky Assignments. As an experienced writer and proofreader he writes about business strategy and entrepreneurship.

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