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To the dentists on this forum little tricks YOU CAN DO to help your patients through their appointment other than suggesting sedation

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PetLover

Junior member
Joined
Nov 9, 2019
Messages
9
Location
USA
To all,

Although I am an avid reader of this site and it has really helped me over the past year, there is one area that I have never seen addressed, and I think this is a good place to post it. Please move into another forum if you believe it should go elsewhere. So I would like a pose a simple question to my fellow poster as to what single thing a dentist could do (other than sedation)that you think would help you through an appointment. It doesn't have to be fancy... but I think it would help our dentist better understand what is on our minds. I'll start.

For me, it would be please say something to me, anything to me, while your work. I understand the complexity of your job and the need to focus on the work at hand. But when the procedure isn't particularly pleasant and it feels like you are standing on my face with your arm crammed into my mouth, up to your elbow, and I'm stuck in that dentist chair, the ONLY thing I am thinking about is getting the HELL away from you/there as soon as I can. Typically, there is no pain involved, because my dentist took the time to make sure I am numb. But I'm anxious because I'm trapped into being forced to endure an unpleasant situation. Next thing fight or flight kicks in. In my case I chose fight... But I feel just a few words from my dentist even about "nothing" would just help me to calm down. I don't need a fancy t.v. or music I don't go to the dentist for entertainment. I just need a few words to make sure that I'm with you. Next.....
 
Judythecat

Judythecat

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 7, 2018
Messages
592
I’m in your camp, I like a bit of chat. My dentist knows this, and checks in to tell me what’s going on, how long it will take, and that I am okay. She also knows enough about me that she can have a conversation with the nurse which includes me (even though I can’t join in!) about a topic that’s relevant. For example, I have a cat, and she has cats, both of us love food and finding new places to eat.

HOWEVER! I know lots of people would really hate this. They might want the dentist to be quiet and do the job, and just to concentrate on their breathing or whatever. So I think the most important thing the dentist can do is listen, get to know patients, and get a measure of what they are going to be comfortable with, then run with that. Where I think this is very difficult is when a patient switches dentists regularly, or doesn’t go until they are really desperate and out of their mind with pain and fear.

FWIW, my dentist isn’t particularly keen on sedation. She says that a patient then never gets an idea of what they can cope with, so will always want and need sedated. Whereas a person who realises a filling isn’t too bad might be willing to give a root canal a go. (I don’t love having treatment, but my fear is actually needles, so sedation isn’t much of a solution.)
 
Enarete

Enarete

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 18, 2017
Messages
2,453
But when the procedure isn't particularly pleasant and it feels like you are standing on my face with your arm crammed into my mouth, up to your elbow, and I'm stuck in that dentist chair, the ONLY thing I am thinking about is getting the HELL away from you/there as soon as I can. Typically, there is no pain involved, because my dentist took the time to make sure I am numb. But I'm anxious because I'm trapped into being forced to endure an unpleasant situation.
If this is how you feel during a treatment then it seems to me that you haven't found the right dentist yet or that there is still a bit of work for you and your dentist in terms of communication and teamwork.

This whole site is full of advice for dentists in terms of how to treat nervous patients, you will find it in the common fears section, in the section for dentists, in the interviews with dentists and also in the discussion part in form of threats about what makes people feel safe at the dentist or what they prefer.

Sadly, there really is not any single one thing that a dentist can do. Even the "sedation" consists of so many things and so many pieces. Even if you get sedation, there will be a part of your visit where you most likely will talk to your dentist and address things.

In my opinion, sometimes people state "I am nervous" and expect the dentist to know what to do, but really, everyone is different. As @Judythecat mentioned, the things you find helpful might be really annoying for other people (yes, there are even nervous patients who just want their dentist to talk as less as possible). There are people who wish to see instruments and get them explained and there are people who want to know as less as possible. There are people who want music and distraction, there are some who don't. There are people who want to talk about their fears and conquer it and there are people who just want to get the work done. There is also such a thing as basic chemistry that either can be good or not and if it is not good then nothing will help.

The most important thing is that your dentist is able to communicate with you and find ways that help you and your unique fears.

I can't help myself but see a sense of "I really don't like dentists" in your post, it sounds like you have had upsetting experiences in your past and feel like the dentists that treated you do not get it. I wish you find someone gentle who will be willing to find out what helps you and guide you through, not just push sedation.

By the way, the dentists on this forum are all absolutely fantastic with nervous patients, they have plenty of background in this field and are responsible for many many people who had lost hope in the past and are now able to cope with dental care. Most of the dentist here would prefer to find a way to treat the fear and make their patients able to get treatment without sedation. This forum wouldn't be nearly as helpful as it is without the lovely dentists here.
 
C

comfortdentist

Well-known member
Verified dentist
Joined
Jul 19, 2009
Messages
2,869
Location
Miami, Fl
There is not a single path of treatment modality that all patients would prefer or even find acceptable. Different people do best with different approaches and interactions. As much as possible I figure out how to best interact on the first appointment for the subsequent appointments. I will say it is essential that their doctor listen, accepts what they are told and respects their patient.
 
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PetLover

Junior member
Joined
Nov 9, 2019
Messages
9
Location
USA
Enarete, I agree on a lot with what you have said. But, I'm tired of "dentist shopping", in part," not having a dentist that I could trust and felt comfortable with got me in this mess. I "like," the individuals that I have selected as my dentists. However, I despise dental procedures and the environment/setting. That is a big difference. I have to agree that there is is still a bit of work for myself and my dentist to do in terms of communication and teamwork. I can tell that they are trying their best to accommodate me ( i.e. painless injections, appointment breaks, etc.) But they are failing when it comes to communication, and I constantly find myself having to remind them that I am the final decision maker as to how I want my treatment to progress. They want to make that decision... but really that is my decision to make. In the upcoming year, I need to see how we can communicate and work better as a team.
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 26, 2017
Messages
2,682
Location
Minneapolis, MN
Petlover,

Really good thought on this post! it also sounds like you are really thinking on things and how they can improve both your part and how you can communicate with your dentist on their part..

I know my previous dentist was GREAT at distraction and talking and joking and he just had a great knack for putting me immediately at ease no matter what kind of procedure I was going in for.. I think the open communication and knowing he respected my wishes..and thoughts in every step and concern was so huge.. the guy was really an angel.. I thought the distraction and almost entertainment value was what really helped me through in part.. then he left..

and new dentist.. well he is also amazing , completely respect him so much.. totally different personality.. quiet, calm, focused.. he is not a distracter.. but again he absolutely listens and respects my stopsigns or questions and makes sure all is answered before and after any appt. though he's not a talk you through every step guy I totally trust him .

So I know for me the one thing I would say was they respected our wishes and concerns and stopsigns and listen and communicated with us. whatever that looks like.. like you say work like a team more..
 
Niall Neeson

Niall Neeson

Member
Verified dentist
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Messages
83
Location
Ireland
Hiya, yes it’s a nice idea for a thread and it’s always valuable to get an insight. I completely agree with @Enarete and @comfortdentist in that everyone is different and it’s definitely not a case of one size fits all.

i find taking time at the beginning is invaluable. This allows us to work together in figuring out the best approach for each specific person. And that may evolve as time goes on.

I always say to people “Let me know what works well and let me know if something isn’t working so well for you.” I find this openness gives a much better chance of long term success.
 
S

Surreyvwphobic

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 1, 2010
Messages
214
Location
In dental heaven
Hello "Petlover" and indeed all who have written on this thread and subject. I hear all you say loud and clear and empathise fully having come through pretty extreme phobia over the last 47 years. I fully concur that communication is the key at the outset; my current dentist talks to me regularly about what is going on, what to expect (usually nothing to be fearful about) and always makes sure that I am alright at very regular intervals. This is so basic, that if a dentist is not doing this, they should not be practising in the first place! A dentist is no different to any other service provider one might seek; when one is searching for their ideal match, they will look at several options, very crucially in this instance will ideally meet a prospective service provider before anything happens at all, and finally instinct will play a part; if you like someone, then the chances of success are very high! If the person you meet does not seem very caring or accommodating, then perhaps best to move on and look again. Until a couple of years ago, I too was having everything done under sedation, even regular cleanings; my previous experiences had been so horrific that I had got to the stage where I trusted no one and assumed that everything would be unpleasant. I can honestly report that my recent experiences have been something of an eye (or mouth!!) opener and dentistry has changed so much, both in terms of technology and also moreover of dentist/patient attitude, where now respect is so much more the norm than it was even ten years ago (this written 2020). Anybody who wants to read my story can see it in my two journals titled "Smiles Better" and "Enhanced Dentistry", elements of which many dentists could learn from. In a nutshell, my thoughts are: meet many people in a neutral situation, ask many questions and only proceed on your terms when you are ready. For dentists, it is worth remembering that everybody is unique and there may well be hidden issues that could be triggered in a dental situation. In short, one size does not fit all! On behalf of others who have written here with issues I would also like to thank the dentists on here who have supported us with our fears and queries; you have clearly helped many and in doing what you do, will help others to access the help and care they seek.
 
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