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Chair position



Former Member
Quite a few people with a dental phobia prefer to be sitting up rather than lying down during treatment, but there can be technical difficulties involved. In this thread, you can also leave your own comments regarding chair position.

Here's a reply I got when I asked one dentist for his thoughts on the matter:

"In a general sense, I will never refuse any request unless I perceived it to be a danger. One of my primary rules of practice is that I will never ask anyone to do/be anything that is not comfortable for them or without their permission and that permission may be undone at any time. They are always at choice and in charge (everyone is told this at introduction) but they are responsible for the choice and the consequences of their choice. Some have wanted me to work without putting instruments into their mouth!! In these situations, time and care must be given to dealing with the phobia, before it is appropriate to begin dental procedures. I always find it good to remember that dentistry is NOT that important in the overall scheme of things and that focus may be more appropriately put on dealing with the issues than trying to get other work done while dancing all around the issues that need attention.

So I will indeed change the position of the chair to accommodate individuals. The angle of the chair is not that crucial in my view but it is important for the operator to be comfortable as well. A dentist would be unwise to undertake treatment while uncomfortable for many reasons. Often some compromise is arrived at. I will sometimes bring the chair back little by little allowing the person time to adjust to each position before moving further back. This can be a helpful trick in some cases because it allows the dentist to get closer to his/her optimum position without inducing the anxiety/panic that might happen if it were all happening at once.

The sitting up position was the norm in the 50's and 60's and the equipment was designed to match. Modern equipment is not so good at adapting to the sitting position. An older dentist with the older equipment would be quite at home in the sitting position. Having trained Trendelenberg [head down inclination], it is difficult to change positions for most with the biggest change producing the biggest problems from a comfort point of view. Suitability [of chair position] for different types of procedure would need to be evaluated."
Laying all the way back definitely scares me more than sitting if I don't have Nitrous. If I have Nitrous, I prefer to be lay all the way back because it makes the "spacing out" experience even better.

With no Nitrous, I prefer sitting upright (so I can jump up when I need to). :)
Honestly, I absolutely hate being laid back in the chair. I feel like I have absolutely no control, and often times my request to stop, or even my pre-arranged signal to stop, gets ignored. I have even been told to "sit back and relax, 'cause I'm in charge now" by the pros in the office.

It was so bad once when they wouldn't stop that the arm rest came off in my hand. They stopped. No, it wasn't just the padding, the whole assembly came with it. Like I said, they stopped.
Personally, I don't mind how the chair is for me. I always feel in control with my dentist, and if the work is done easier when I'm laying back, then I'll lay back - doesn't bother me. I've never sat up during treatment - I might find sitting up more comfortable, and feel much better - I'm sure my dentist wouldn't object - but, yeah. Doesn't bother me. :)

I never had much of an opinion on the chair position, as my dentist only puts the chair slightly back during procedures (he always stands during procedures), but last week he need to raise the chair and lay me completely flat during part of a procedure (in order to view the tooth better). I really do prefer the chair just slightly back, but I did understand the need for the flatback position. My dentist only kept me in that position for about 2 or 3 minutes, then he raised the chair back up, I was much more comfortable :)
The chair position used to be an issue for me, as my previous dentist leaned me WAAAYYY back, to the point where I would actually feel myself shifting towards my head, so I suspect I was farther back than 180 degrees. My dentist now actually leans me back no further than your average living room recliner, and I'm much more comfy with that.
:)I dont mind lying back at all my dentist always warns me she is lowering the chair back. I do find though that i need to have eye contact with my dentist i find it more reassuring if i can see her.
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Since I have sedation, the chair position doesn't really bother me.... laying back while sedated just helps you to drift off into another world better. I do mind thoughif tey go beyond 180 degrees, which they do sometimes.... and the reason is that the blood starts going more to my head and I can sometimes feel faint when I finally get up.
I don't mind laying all the way back if it makes it easier for the dentist to see etc., I just like to be warned about it first, I'm fine once it's back but I don't like the "going back" as it feels like I'm falling or something (that's probabaly the controlling part of me coming out!) lol. But like some of you mentioned I don't like being past 180 degrees for a long period of time as I start to get dizzy and feel a little faint trying to get up. Although I tend to be a bit jumpier lying back as it's harder to see what's going on, like what tools are being reached for and such, so I don't have as much time to prepare because by the time I see it it's already in my mouth being put to work. Usually I'm warned though, so as long as I know what to expect the chair position isn't too much of an issue with me.
When treated by my current dentist (who is absolutely awesome and I trust her and feel there very comfortamble) I prefer lying back as for me it's a great position to relax, but I would have hated it and felt out of control if I was laid back by my previous dentists.
I don't really care. So long as I don't know what is going on or being done I don't care what way he has the chair. I am generally Fine Lying Back Thank goodness as my Dentist prefers that. :party:
I hate lying back. I have post nasal drip, and I tend to gag and choke on it. :scared:
Being tipped all the way back compounds my feeling of being trapped--by all the lights, equipment, people and hands in front of me, etc. Once done, I am out of that chair and into a NORMAL chair while waiting for X-rays, etc., unless they bring me back upright. I feel like a turtle on its back--it would be hard to get out in a hurry if I had to (like if they hurt me, which hasn't happened badly yet, but which I am ALWAYS ready for).
when i was at the dentist she had me so far back i could almost see the floor maybe wasent that far back still kinda fuzzy lol but i know when htey put the chair up i got a rush and had a masive headeche
Not keen on being laid back at 180 degrees, as others have said i feel ive lost control on the situation, and started panicking on how im going to get up if it gets too much, to me it also makes the procedure feel more surgical, as in operating tables etc...
Sitting up makes it less informal to me, less surgical.
I actually like laying back in the chair! Whatever chair position makes it easier for the dentist to do his job is fine with me. But if we're just talking, I prefer to be sitting up.
hi there,
I remember the old chairs the dentist had when i was growing up.Almost like a barber chair.It tilted back some but not a lot.My first experience in the new type I honestly thought I was going to fall out of it and hung on for dear life.I guess the new ones are comfortable enough.Just takes some getting used to
1 of my fears is being layed flat on my back. I feel out of control & clausrophobic.
I feel trapped & like i'm being pinned down.

( i'm getting myself more wound up writing this ) :scared:
When I've been talking to the dentist, I have always stood up, I am used to eye to eye contact when I talk so it seems natural. When the dentist has been ready to start work on me, the chair is set like a recliner and is very comfortable, sort of how I sit in the garden on a nice day or sometimes watch tv sitting on the bed propped up by pillows, but when I had the IV sedation last week, it was fully back and I felt fine. Having built up trust and confidence in my dentist, I was comfortable in whatever position she felt was right for her, but she never gave me any surprises and always told me if she was altering the position.
puppypusher said:
hi there,
I remember the old chairs the dentist had when i was growing up.Almost like a barber chair.It tilted back some but not a lot..........

My first visits involved this type too, even though I'm not that old...honestly!.....give me modern comfortable 180 degree sun lounger anyday - much easier to relax :cloud9:.