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Dental Guilt Spiral

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robendicott

Junior member
Joined
Oct 19, 2008
Messages
8
Location
Eastbourne
Here is a short article I wrote recently, dont know if it would be of any use to anyone.... Its about the Guilt Spiral. I am a Sedation Phobia Dentist and this is something that seems to strike a cord with a lot of people.

I come across this a lot, people who have been "told off" by dentists or hygienists, been made to feel like idiots because they have let their teeth go.

I believe most people know that your teeth fall apart because of too much sugar and not enough brushing so when we go to a dentist because our teeth are a mess, we really know Full Well why that has happened! Why do we then get patronized? And why should we spend money somewhere where we are made to feel like children?

This is how I believe the "Guilt Spiral" works.
You may be nervous of going to the dentist already - you may have had a nasty experience as a child. You get a cavity and you know about it.
You think, I'll just leave it a bit whilst I build my courage to book an appointment. Oddly enough, that courage never appears. so the hole worsens.
It then starts to hurt. You think, "i must get it sorted really soon now" but it is already starting to give you pain - if anyone goes near it, its going to hurt more. So you delay a bit longer.
Then the Guilt starts creeping in - If I do go to the dentist now and tell them that I've known about this for a year, it will be "Tut, Tut, Silly You! How could you let it get like this?"
So not only do you have pain, you have embrassement and guilt, which only gets worse as time moves on.
Eventually a tipping point occurs, say an Abscess, where emergency treatment is needed, you find anyone who can help, don't know if you are going to trust them etc etc.

This is the point where I get emails from people who are crying as they type - that is very common indeed.

Here is another Guilt Spiral - and I got this from a young mum I met at a childrens party last week.

She noticed her 4 year old had a small cavity - she felt awful. She put it off for a bit because she felt so bad. Eventually the boy was getting some toothache.
The sweet boy had not been to a dentist before. She went to a local Dentist who told her off, told the boy off, made him cry AND THEN ATTEMPTED A FILLING! The dentist got stroppy with the boy, telling him to keep still whilst the mum looked on in horror.
Needless to say it wasn't a successful appointment and the Dentist has now put the fear into that little boy. It is such a shame that that Dentists behaviour has actually provided a Barrier to that child getting good Dental Care. The dentist was thinking that getting the filling done was the most important thing, rather than trying to calm, reassure, not telling the mum she has been a "Bad Parent".

I am a parent, I hate being criticised by other people! How dare they!

So, how much of peoples phobias has actually been caused or exacerbated by the Dentist themselves? We as dentists wronglynthink,"Its the parents fault, they obviously mentioned the word "Pain" to the child and got them scared" or "the child is feeding off the mums phobia".

If we are going to be a force for good, We as Dentists do need to redress our attitude to Fear Management. We need to know more about the Long Term Effect of Our Behaviour on the Psychological Health of our Patients. We need to start being nice.

there - that will annoy some colleagues….:)
 
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Eshy

Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2012
Messages
58
Location
Ohio
Haha, totally liking your thoughts here. Makes complete sense. My dentist as a child also made remarks about my teeth being bad and was not a comfortable guy to be worked on by, always yelling at me to be still and quit crying. My teeth were awful though... So I get why he might be a little upset with my parents. I remember going in once and walking out with 6 announced cavities when I was little... But still it is quite rude for them to be this way! You'd think they'd be smarter than that because such things can obviously hurt your business AND the patients psychological state with dental issues.
 
mikey boy

mikey boy

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 4, 2009
Messages
1,039
Location
Florida
I remember going as kid I hated it. Lol I would always get scared. To go cause I knew they would hold me down and talk to each other as they worked didn't even care that's why I stopped going I DID NOT WANT TO GO THROUGH THAT AGAIN I just couldn't but this makes alot of sence thank you very much
 
T

tracy3095

Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2012
Messages
27
Location
Florida
You know I just went to the dentist on Jan 27 of this year..and the dentist said she was going to remove some calculus on my teeth and use the deep cleaning and the root scaling and planing on my upper right area of teeth. Well the assistant herself an middle aged woman kept saying oh I think she has perio, def going to need to come back, yea lot of redness and swelling. Well on top of being a dental phobic, and being afraid to go to begin with that is not what i needed. The dentist never got into it as much as the assistant did. She made me feel very uncomfortable. Because of this, I am looking for another dentist while saving up money to have my bottom righ quadrant done as well. I will not go back and have to face her again. She made my anxiety grow more. Besides since that visit, I am brushing at least 2 times a day, rinsing with perio RX mouthwash 2 times a day and using the floss brushes at night before bed. My gums look so much better.
 
carole

carole

Well-known member
Forum Buddy
Joined
Jan 5, 2012
Messages
7,744
Location
UK
I just feel that some of today's dentists do try shift blame for people being phobic. I was a child in the 60s and had my fair share of being butchered by the dentist I saw back then.

But also, more up to date as an adult I have had pain, rough handling, and neglect, from dentists, we did not eat lots of sweets as children things were very different then, and nobody had the money to feed sweets to kids in any great volume, also we didn't have fast food outlets, also more unbelievable to the youngsters we did not have supermarkets. We ate healthy as everything was home made with plenty of veg, and we did brush twice a day, because even then that was what we were told to do. My age is showing now, oh no I'm turning into my mother!!!! :o

There are good dentists that are good with people and others that, only they know why they went into the profession, but they do not give a dam about the person they are treating.
I do think the majority are good and like most things it only takes a few uncaring dentists to cause an epidemic of phobic's.

I think dental phobia is a very complex thing, one size does not fit all, and the nature of a phobia is that it is an unreasonable fear of whatever you happen to be phobic off. We have very reasonable reasons to be afraid or nervous.

There are many reasons why people are phobic or nervous about visiting a dentist and a lot of these are very complex. So you can't put a single net around dental phobics. It is not quite as simple as you make it sound.

I did however agree with a lot of what you said and I did enjoy reading it. But this is only part of the problems we suffer.
 
D

Dreadnought

Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2012
Messages
36
Location
London, UK
Ha! Liking your thoughts on this!

Nobody showed me how to brush my teeth properly. My parents had no clue, and my entire extended family have disastrous dentition. When I was in my 20s and working in a hospital I earwigged on an oral surgeon giving a lesson in brushing to one of her patients. I thought, "Wow - no wonder I've got more filling than tooth".

So basically I'd been having cavities treated for years and had been constantly told off about my inadequate brushing, but nobody took the trouble to find out if not knowing was the problem.

Note to dental practitioners: please check (in a non-patronising manner) whether your patients actually have adequate knowledge of how to brush their teeth. Please don't feel tempted to issue a telling off, either - as this article demonstrates, it can be hugely counter-productive.
 
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