Unhelpful or helpful comments/remarks

kitkat

kitkat

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I have been thinking about all of the comments and remarks that dentists have made over the years that were well intended and meant to be helpful but had the opposite effect on me. While many of the remarks have been very helpful and reassuring there are a few that stick in my mind as making me more anxious.

These are some of my top ones:

1) "It will be over before you know it" with regards to drilling a tooth. This is very cliche and I will definitely be
counting every second until it is done which is never soon enough. Also, that statement implies to me that something very unpleasant is about to happen :(.

2) "You might feel :thinking:....this a little" with hesitation before "this" in regards to scaling. My first thought is feel what exactly? :confused: I think you are searching for a pleasant word to substitute for pain or discomfort and can't find one therefore "this" is your censor word for lack of better options.

3) "If you feel any pain, let me know" before doing something in particular mid-procedure. Usually my dentist says "discomfort" which essentially means the same thing but something about using the "p" word really does make a difference and kicks my anxiety levels up a few points. I find that I have a higher anticipation of pain when I hear her say it. I think my brain is just hardwired that way. Also timing is important. That statement is usually given at the very beginning as a general oversight using the term "discomfort" instead which I find comforting as it gives me control to stop her. If she says that just before she's about to do something in particular though it confirms that whatever she is about to do is potentially painful. Good rule of thumb: if my dentist is anticipating pain, I probably should too! :o

4) Mentioning anything about me being or appearing nervous/shaky/quivering as an observation. I'm pretty sure everyone in the room is quite certain of my anxiety status without saying it out loud. That one is a toss-up for me. While I'm grateful that it is recognized/noticed and addressed it makes me feel soo self-conscious and stressed at the same time. I haven't decided if that one is actually helpful or not.

AND FOR THE ABSOLUTE WORST ONE (from a past childhood dentist)....

5) "You're going to feel a tiny bee sting" in regards to an injection. I don't know what his experience is with bees but bee stings HURT and the thought of a bee sting in my mouth freaks me out. Bee stings hurt way more than dental injections ever should as my current dentist does painless injections every time. To my memory that injection was quite painful but I'm not sure how much of it had to do with anticipation of pain. What happened to a "small pinch"? I really like the way my current dentist reintroduced injections it as "you may feel a small pinch or you may even feel nothing at all." That is much less threatening than a "bee sting"! :o

While I'm on the subject of things that ARE helpful I must give my dentist credit in saying that I like the way she introduces the drill as "lots of noise and vibration", the ultrasonic scaling as "lots of water", the matrix band used for fillings as "lots of pressure in between the teeth", and says something along the lines of "I don't expect you to feel this" or "I'll be real gentle" when doing something that I'm very nervous about.

It's amazing how language can influence our perception of different stimuli from the environment. It's a very powerful and therapeutic tool in my opinion when it is used wisely. For the most part my current dentist does a fantastic job with word choice but every now and then she slips up and she's only human so who can blame her? But I just wanted to reflect on things that have helped/not helped me over the years. Does anyone else have helpful/unhelpful remarks or comments to add to my list?
 
FearfulInMA

FearfulInMA

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Here are a few things that my dentist has said that have been helpful to me...

1. Any words of encouragement. I'm such an anxious patient so it's particularly helpful for me to hear that I'm doing well during the appt. I also have a fear of being a horrible patient, so this really helps me to feel like I'm not as horrible as I might believe. A simple "you're doing really well" or "you're really hanging in there" is super helpful for me.

2. Humor (particularly having nothing to do with anything dental). I know that there has been a lot of talk on here lately about whether or not joking is helpful or not. My dentist tells jokes all the time... mostly about things having nothing to do with dentistry. I have to say that, for me, even the occasional jokes about my crazy anxiety are helpful for me b/c it really does help remind me to not take things too seriously. It helps me to get out of the dark place in my head that I often go to during difficult appts. For me, humor is the coping skill I tend to use most. So, I'm quite grateful to have found a dentist who is able to get me to laugh.

3. Similar to the humor, talking about things that having nothing to do with the work going on in my mouth is often quite helpful. During dental procedures, I have no desire to know what's going on in my mouth. I do appreciate warnings about injections (so that I'm sure to keep my eyes closed -- they they are nearly always closed anyway), but other than that, I'd rather pretend that nothing is happening. So, I really appreciate that my dentist often talks about other things.

4. Before I had my 4th wisdom tooth extracted (the original plan to remove all 4 by an oral surgeon did not go as planned) I was a hysterical mess. My dentist said to me "you know it has to get done. You don't have to do it today, but it has to get done". This was probably the most helpful thing he could have said to me b/c it helped me to feel back in control and able to know that I was making the choice to have the extraction done that day.

I'm curious to hear what others say...
 
kitkat

kitkat

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3. Similar to the humor, talking about things that having nothing to do with the work going on in my mouth is often quite helpful. During dental procedures, I have no desire to know what's going on in my mouth. I do appreciate warnings about injections (so that I'm sure to keep my eyes closed -- they they are nearly always closed anyway), but other than that, I'd rather pretend that nothing is happening. So, I really appreciate that my dentist often talks about other things.

I mostly agree with this too. It depends on what is being done. If it is something new or unfamiliar I would rather be talked through everything step by step with a running commentary. If it is something that I am very familiar with then I'd rather she just chat about anything non-dental to distract me. Although I like warnings about sensations when she is changing tools. I'm hypersensitive in the chair and don't like any surprises I even jump at air and water spraying sometimes just because it startles me. That has improved a lot as the trust relationship has improved plus I keep my eyes open the whole time.

4. Before I had my 4th wisdom tooth extracted (the original plan to remove all 4 by an oral surgeon did not go as planned) I was a hysterical mess. My dentist said to me "you know it has to get done. You don't have to do it today, but it has to get done". This was probably the most helpful thing he could have said to me b/c it helped me to feel back in control and able to know that I was making the choice to have the extraction done that day.

I'm curious to hear what others say...

I think overall the MOST helpful thing for me has been being told that I am in control and being encouraged to use a stop signal. That immediately lessened my fears from about a 10 to a 4 in the beginning. I was a teen at the time when we established that and I really needed to hear that confirmation from her. That arose from a time when I was having pain and didn't stop her because it didn't occur to me that I could or should interrupt (that was only my second treatment with her).
 
shamrockerin

shamrockerin

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Well, like all of us on here, I have had a number of things said to/about me by dental professionals.

Because I am a cynic, I am going to list all the unhelpful things first:

1) "this is the hard part" said to me by my childhood dentist as he putting a needle toward me. No words beforehand about what to expect or what I might feel, and no attempts to distract me or tell me to close my eyes.

2) many dentists will tell you to raise your hand if you start to feel anything, but they ABSOLUTELY must stop if you do raise your hand. Saying it means nothing if they continue with the procedure and do not attend to your signal that you're in pain.

3) at one of my appointments I asked the dentist "Is there an end in sight?" and he replied simply that I need alot of work done ("no"). Instead of just letting me absorb this, the dental assistant chirped in with "So it depends how far you can see!" This made me annoyed with her, and it also made me feel stupid, like she was saying "Oh, you know your teeth are in terrible shape, and it's going to take a long time to fix them"

4) At my last cleaning, the hygienist gestured to the chair and said "TA-! Your favorite place to be!" This made me feel like she was making fun of my obvious anxiety and to be honest, it makes me reluctant to go back to her. For the record, I might not mind it if the staff did knock-knock jokes or something, but I don't like jokes that seem to be at MY expense.

5)I am very frustrated with the gap in semantics between dental professionals and patients. If a dentist says "discomfort", then very likely the patient hears "pain" and a dental phobic hears "RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!". I would much rather they be reassuring but still honest like: "it might be sore, but it is normal and it will be temporary" or "this is going to sting a little, but I promise to make it as quick as possible".

I think dentists need to remember that it's not enough to be patient and understanding the first time, or the first few appointments; they need to be understanding and patient all the time, especially with dental phobics. When my dentist is calm and patient, i feel compelled to match his demeanor. But if he becomes impatient with me, it just makes me want to run out of there and never return.

Now the 2 helpful things:

1) after my 3rd appointment for fillings, he stayed with me for a minute afterwards to "just talk." He said I seemed a little less jittery that time and assured me that I did OK, which is one of the reasons I have continued to go back to him.

2) when I first met my current dentist, he obviously found out that I hadn't been to any dentist in a long time. He simply asked "What are you afraid of? Did you have a bad experience?" Just asking helped because I felt like my fear wasn't being simply dismissed as silly, but that he recognized there could be a very real reason for it.
 
kitkat

kitkat

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Well, like all of us on here, I have had a number of things said to/about me by dental professionals.

Because I am a cynic, I am going to list all the unhelpful things first:

Glad I'm not the only cynic around here! ;)

1) "this is the hard part" said to me by my childhood dentist as he putting a needle toward me. No words beforehand about what to expect or what I might feel, and no attempts to distract me or tell me to close my eyes.

2) many dentists will tell you to raise your hand if you start to feel anything, but they ABSOLUTELY must stop if you do raise your hand. Saying it means nothing if they continue with the procedure and do not attend to your signal that you're in pain.

#1 would put me off injections for life and #2 would put me off dentists for life! :o I honestly don't remember the first time the injections were introduced to me :confused: I seem to have always known about them though. I must have had a pretty good history with them because I've never been particularly fearful of dental injections. I have a moment of mild anxiety just before and then I'm okay after the initial stick. I went through a short phase where I would really freak out about injections in my arm to the point of crying and carrying on before they ever touched me but I never got that way with dental injections (thank goodness because I have needed a lot in the past!). I almost became phobic of dental injections after one really painful injection a couple of years ago. I think it was just a fluke and it was totally unexpected. The dentist stopped mid-injection because I was in obvious pain and gave me a couple minutes to compose myself and then talked me into letting her finish the rest of the local injections. I was terrified to try them again after that but she talked me through them and did them painlessly. I only let her try again because I had already had painless injections with her before but I think the positive experience happening immediately after the negative one seemed to be good for counteracting my fear.

5)I am very frustrated with the gap in semantics between dental professionals and patients. If a dentist says "discomfort", then very likely the patient hears "pain" and a dental phobic hears "RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!". I would much rather they be reassuring but still honest like: "it might be sore, but it is normal and it will be temporary" or "this is going to sting a little, but I promise to make it as quick as possible".

I can't make up my mind for where I stand on this. My dentist has used all of the above i.e. general terms-discomfort, very straight forward terms-pain, and very specific terms-stinging, burning, etc. I feel like discomfort is a little deceptive if you really are trying to say "pain". I think it's only okay if it is used before a procedure to let the patient know they can stop if they are having discomfort because "discomfort" can mean a lot of things and you may want to stop and take a break for reasons other than just "pain" with regards to jaw fatigue or mental discomfort like anxiety or feeling claustrophobic or overwhelmed. I think for the most part, I like the specific terms so that I can anticipate the magnitude of what's coming and what is normal and not normal. I think that if I know exactly what's coming and how long it's going to last, I'm better able to tolerate it even if it's uncomfortable. Like for example, the matrix band that goes around the tooth for fillings, it's not necessarily painful but it can be uncomfortable. My dentist showed it to me first, explained exactly what it was going to feel like and how long it would be there and asked me to hang in there with her for a few seconds and I was perfectly fine with it.


I think dentists need to remember that it's not enough to be patient and understanding the first time, or the first few appointments; they need to be understanding and patient all the time, especially with dental phobics. When my dentist is calm and patient, i feel compelled to match his demeanor. But if he becomes impatient with me, it just makes me want to run out of there and never return.

Oh my gosh! I could not have said this better myself! I went through this on and off with my dentist where I think she forgets how fearful I am and is more or less patient/reassuring based on how fearful I appear on any given day. She wasn't even particularly friendly until I showed up to my first filling appointment openly terrified and then her whole demeanor changed. It's like the more scared I appear, the nicer she is :confused:. She knows me pretty well now so it is not as much of an issue anymore and I try not to hold back on my fear to remind her although I'm sure my fears are noted all over my chart! :redface: I also seem to be less "good" at concealing my fears as time goes by so not holding back is not something I struggle too much with. Sometimes she doesn't talk to distract me as much as I'd like anymore so I try to drop subtle cues that I want her to talk by asking really open ended questions before she starts working and that helps.

Now the 2 helpful things:

1) after my 3rd appointment for fillings, he stayed with me for a minute afterwards to "just talk." He said I seemed a little less jittery that time and assured me that I did OK, which is one of the reasons I have continued to go back to him.

2) when I first met my current dentist, he obviously found out that I hadn't been to any dentist in a long time. He simply asked "What are you afraid of? Did you have a bad experience?" Just asking helped because I felt like my fear wasn't being simply dismissed as silly, but that he recognized there could be a very real reason for it.

I didn't even think about this before but my dentist makes a point of chatting with me here and there after appointments outside of the treatment room at the front desk while I'm waiting for paperwork to be processed and will often smile and say "hi" from the counter if I'm in the waiting room or walking towards the treatment room before a procedure. Those moments of friendly informal chatting really do help with building rapport and I have never had another dentist do that before.

I had a similar experience to your #2. During my first filling with my dentist (when I was obviously fearful) she asked me if I had the procedure done before and I told her "yes but it was a long time ago and that I was very young and I didn't remember much of it" and she replied with "well that must have been a positive experience right? Because as kids we remember everything..." and I kind of avoided the question but I remember really appreciating that she was asking those probing sorts of questions as it made me feel validated. It put me at ease to see she was truly concerned about my mental state and concerned about providing good experiences.

Thanks for sharing shamrockerin! :)
 
shamrockerin

shamrockerin

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#1 would put me off injections for life and #2 would put me off dentists for life! :o I honestly don't remember the first time the injections were introduced to me :confused:

Well, consider yourself lucky then. My fear of needles is a big part of my dental phobia, and without trying to sound melodramatic, I blame alot of it on my childhood dentist for surprising me with that needle. I have watched dental assistant training videos, and they clearly address techniques that assistants/dentists can use to help children deal with injections, such as holding their hands, telling them to close their eyes, or just telling them that they might feel a little "pinch" to prepare them and making sure they cannot see the giant syringe. Perhaps if someone had prepared me better, and if I had not seen that giant needle coming straight at me, then this aspect wouldn't bother me as much.

Oh my gosh! I could not have said this better myself! I went through this on and off with my dentist where I think she forgets how fearful I am and is more or less patient/reassuring based on how fearful I appear on any given day. She wasn't even particularly friendly until I showed up to my first filling appointment openly terrified and then her whole demeanor changed. It's like the more scared I appear, the nicer she is :confused:. She knows me pretty well now so it is not as much of an issue anymore and I try not to hold back on my fear to remind her although I'm sure my fears are noted all over my chart! :redface: I also seem to be less "good" at concealing my fears as time goes by so not holding back is not something I struggle too much with. Sometimes she doesn't talk to distract me as much as I'd like anymore so I try to drop subtle cues that I want her to talk by asking really open ended questions before she starts working and that helps.

Yes I can relate to this. I feel like when I first started going to the dentist, everyone was kind of walking on egg shells and trying to be reassure me all the time. Now 7 months later, it seems like they have forgotten somewhat because the hygienist was very reassuring at my first cleaning, but then at my second one she made that joke about the chair being "my favorite place to be". This is a big reason why I wrote the 2nd letter to the office; I needed to remind them that fear doesn't go away overnight (at least not for most of us) and that it's still a struggle for me to walk into the office even though I have been doing it for 7 months now. I still need them to be patient and gentle with me.

I am going to see how my appointment on Thursday goes. If they still make jokes or lose patience with me in spite of the letter I wrote, which I worked very hard on and tried to make it as polite and diplomatic as possible, then I think I'll need to start looking elsewhere.
 
FearfulInMA

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I feel like when I first started going to the dentist, everyone was kind of walking on egg shells and trying to be reassure me all the time. Now 7 months later, it seems like they have forgotten somewhat because the hygienist was very reassuring at my first cleaning, but then at my second one she made that joke about the chair being "my favorite place to be". This is a big reason why I wrote the 2nd letter to the office; I needed to remind them that fear doesn't go away overnight (at least not for most of us) and that it's still a struggle for me to walk into the office even though I have been doing it for 7 months now. I still need them to be patient and gentle with me.

I sometimes think this happens for me too. Though, I'm usually pretty good about mentioning right away how nervous I am. The dentist sees a lot of patients and, though he certainly remembers me each time I'm there, I feel like, at least for me, it's partly my responsibility to remind him that I'm anxious. I think it can be hard for him to remember b/c most of the time, even if I feel like I'm about to jump out of my skin, I look pretty normal on the outside. I find that verbally expressing how I am doing/feeling (as opposed to letting non-verbal cues speak for themselves) has been helpful in a lot of areas of my life as I almost always look totally fine on the outside even when I'm a hot mess on the inside.

I also thought of one more thing that my dentist often says which is helpful -- especially around anticipating discomfort without having to say the word pain or other things that might set off all sorts of panic. When he is about to do something (like give a difficult injection or do something else that might be uncomfortable), he will often say "you're not going to like me very much in a minute". I usually remind him that it's not him I won't like, but rather the pointy objects he's sticking in my mouth. He also often apologizes if he knows that he is going something that is causing discomfort.


I am going to see how my appointment on Thursday goes. If they still make jokes or lose patience with me in spite of the letter I wrote, which I worked very hard on and tried to make it as polite and diplomatic as possible, then I think I'll need to start looking elsewhere.

I have a really good feeling about Thursday. I'm going to be sending lots of positive energy your way (and I don't think it even has very far to go to get to you :)). Try to plan some fun things to do this week before and after your appt to take your mind off of it! And, if you're stressing out about it, keep posting here

Take good care.
 
shamrockerin

shamrockerin

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I have a really good feeling about Thursday. I'm going to be sending lots of positive energy your way (and I don't think it even has very far to go to get to you :)). Try to plan some fun things to do this week before and after your appt to take your mind off of it! And, if you're stressing out about it, keep posting here. Take good care.

Thank you FearfulinMA. I am going to tell you the same thing I told Tabatha7: If you have such a good feeling about my RCT, then why don't you go instead of me?:innocent:

I took the whole day off for my RCT (Thursday) and I also took Friday off. I figure if I am in pain from the RCT, then I don't need to worry about going to work. If I don't have any pain, or just minimal pain, then the day off is my reward for going through with it. Depending on how I feel on Friday, I can go shopping :xmas: or I can work on the new dollhouse I am building, which is always a very welcome distraction. (Building dollhouses is one of my hobbies:))

If it goes OK, then I will be sure to post ASAP and let you all know. If it doesn't go OK. . . .. .not sure what'll happen then. . . .
 
T

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Thank goodness! I'm off the hook. Fearful can go in my place. :p
 
FearfulInMA

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I would actually swap RCT for most other dental procedures. If I could do it for you, I would... and have you do a cleaning for me? or maybe x-rays? I find both way more difficult... Too bad there not some way to swap teeth for the day. :grin:

And, yes, Tabatha7 -- you are officially off the hook!
 
T

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Thanks for letting me off the hook, Fearful I've still got my hands full trying to face having my wizzies out. I'm still afraid I will get there and not be able to go through with it. Everytime I even think about it I gets sick to my stomach and feel like fainting.
 
shamrockerin

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I would actually swap RCT for most other dental procedures. If I could do it for you, I would... and have you do a cleaning for me? or maybe x-rays? I find both way more difficult... Too bad there not some way to swap teeth for the day. :grin:

X-rays I can do. They dont bother me, I was just worried last time I got them because I didnt know what they'd show. If I were to have them again anytime soon, I dont think there would be any significant changes compared to over 12 years of not having them.

A cleaning used to be fairly easy for me, but now it's almost as bad as a filling. I do not even like being in the chair, even if nothing is going to hurt. I also disliked the joke the hygienist made last time I was there, and now I dread going back to her for fear she'll make another joke about my anxiety.

But, I'd still do both in one day over RCT any day.
 
kitkat

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I don't mind cleanings and xrays too much other than the potential bad news that might come from them. I used to fear cleanings quite a bit from a long and rough history with hygienists which I've already posted about in Shamrockerin's thread. As long as my current dentist is doing the scaling stuff and I get my current hygienist for the cleanings/xrays than I'm okay with it for the most part because I trust that they will be gentle. Don't ask me to go to some stranger though and cope well or worse, the last dental chain I was at where my fear of scaling originated! That would not go over well especially now that I am spoiled with painless cleanings and know better than to tolerate hygienist torture!
 
shamrockerin

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I don't mind cleanings and xrays too much other than the potential bad news that might come from them. I used to fear cleanings quite a bit from a long and rough history with hygienists which I've already posted about in Shamrockerin's thread. As long as my current dentist is doing the scaling stuff and I get my current hygienist for the cleanings/xrays than I'm okay with it for the most part because I trust that they will be gentle. Don't ask me to go to some stranger though and cope well or worse, the last dental chain I was at where my fear of scaling originated! That would not go over well especially now that I am spoiled with painless cleanings and know better than to tolerate hygienist torture!

The 2 cleanings I had were pretty painless, even the first one which was my first cleaning after 12 years and she had to remove a lot of calculus from my teeth. It didn't really hurt I was just panicking and anxious like usual. I floss regularly, and my gums never bleed when i floss, but after my cleanings I seemed to have a little bleeding, and I wonder if she was too rough with the floss.:hmm: but it was just a tiny bit and it didn't hurt. When i think about going back for another cleaning, I am more concerned about another bad joke at my expense. I really hope she gets the memo about how jokes make me feel worse, not better.

I have never had a scaling before and I was terrified that I'd need one after my 12 years in absentia. I am still surprised that no one has ever mentioned it to me; I don't think i could do it.:(
 
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gettingthere

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This is a really interesting thread to a linguistics geek like me! :geek: I’m really interested in sociolinguistics and paralinguistics and the way language can alter perception of social power and distance in a relationship. For years I been desperately wishing that I had the foresight and courage to focus my honours dissertation on the language of phobias as I think this is an area ripe for dissection and although touch on in many articles and theses I have read, the language and method of communication itself is rarely the focus.


That said, I think it is very clear from the replied here and on the other thread about jokes and lighthearted comments that we are all very different and this is something that dentists should take into consideration if they want to make a commitment to helping the anxious and the phobic. There is no such things as a one size fits all approach. Some of us like the jokes and attempts at self depreciating humour, some find it belittling; some find it okay to let go and have a good cry and others see this as an extension of losing control in the chair; some like a good euphemism and others like to be told straight out which is going to happen. None of these reactions are incorrect but a dentist’s response may be if he/she has not read the situation.


That said, I do think there are a couple of points on which we all agree and on that note, I’d like to contribute a few of my own.


1. Never ever ever use the word “silly” to my face (or even think it behind my back. Maybe this comes directly from my own bad experiences but to my mind this one small word is the most condescending, belittling, anger-inducing thing that any dentist or anyone working in the field can say to me. “Don’t be silly”/”Now, don’t you feel a bit silly now it’s all over…” anything like that just makes me (a fairly passive, non-violent person) want to give them a punch in the face. :frantic:


In the same vein.


2. Don’t ever tell me about children who have coped or worse behaved so much better than me, a fully grown adult woman. I feel bad enough about my reactions as it is. You may have had an eight-year old who waked into the office unaided and didn’t flinch at all during the procedure but I don’t need to be measured against him. :doh::doh:


3. Don’t tell me I deserve “it” for years of neglecting my teeth. Deserve what – pain, lack of confidence in my appearance, a hefty chunk from my life savings…? Why not try to explore why I avoided dentistry for so long in the first place. :brickwall:


4. “This won’t hurt…” Again, this is a cliché and rarely true but the problem often lies in the delivery of the cliché – don’t say it listlessly going through the motions.. They may think they are relaxing me but in reality I have just gone on high alert expecting pain. If something genuinely won’t hurt and you want to convey this, stop what you are doing; make eye contact and affirm that the procedure is straightforward and I shouldn’t feel anything but if I do, there is a stop signal. :stop:


5. “I’ve never seen anyone’s eyes glaze with so much terror. Hahaha come and look at her eyes!” Actually said on several occasions by my childhood dentist who would get her assistant to witness the terror for herself. Then laugh. :scared:


6. “It’s a ghastly business but you’ll get through it”. Well gee, thank you oral surgeon for that reassurance! :hidesbehindsofa:


Thankfully none of these have ever been said to me by my current dentist or members of his team.:superman: Instead I get the following helpful things:


1. genuine enquiries about how I am feeling on each appointment.:thumbsup!:
2. procedures explained thoroughly and time to ask questions. :cloud9:
3. Constant reassurance and praise. Not in a patronising way but in a way that genuinely makes me feel proud of my achievements. :star:
4. I am spoken to like a person, an equal even!:nod:
5. descriptions of past bad experiences have been met with sympathy and understanding. Never derision or leaping to another dentist’s defence. :perfect:
6. Being told “there but by the grace of god go any of us” Life is doled out on the toss of a dice and in other circumstances any of the dental staff could be the ones quivering in the corner and I could have been so comfortable with dentistry that I could be in their place. The circumstances and previous experiences are the problem, not the person. :bounces:
7. Talking about non-dental stuff. Hobbies, family etc. Surely even the bad dentists would like to be recognised as human on some level? :claps:
8. Tell me I’m in control. Remind me of stop signals and emphasise that I am the customer and if there is anything I don’t like, it can be stopped and an alternative found. I know the door is there for me to use at any moment but because it is my choice to undergo treatment, I feel in control and my dentist tries hard to give me the positive experiences I need. :yayy:
9. Ask my permission to carry out treatment. “I’d like to do x, would you let me do that” or talking in the plural instead of singular “we will do x” not “I will do x (to you)” – making me feel like a partner or the main person in my dental health journey. :yay:
10. Reminding me of things I have done and relating new treatments to old. “It will feel similar to…” :dance:
11. Introducing nurses and assistants by name so they are not just other people witnessing my discomfort. :cheer2:


Most importantly…


12. “I want to help you” :respect::respect::respect::respect:

One of the worst things I have had said to me was not by a dentist but by one of the few people I had trusted to tell about my phobia – and I wouldn’t be surprised if a similar thing was expressed by some of the evil dentists that some of us have experienced; after the death of my grandmother who was my closest relative and one of my best friends, “well I suppose this puts that little phobia into perspective now you have to deal with a real problem” :cry::cry::cry::cry::cry::cry::cry::cry::cry:


That bee-sting comment is one of the stupidest and most insensitive things I have ever heard. What kind of idiot thinks that is reassuring???
 
shamrockerin

shamrockerin

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This is a really interesting thread to a linguistics geek like me! :geek: I’m really interested in sociolinguistics and paralinguistics and the way language can alter perception of social power and distance in a relationship. For years I been desperately wishing that I had the foresight and courage to focus my honours dissertation on the language of phobias as I think this is an area ripe for dissection and although touch on in many articles and theses I have read, the language and method of communication itself is rarely the focus.

WOW- I feel so lucky to have found a fellow geek!!! I am also interested in linguistics, but my real baby is literary theory. I really think that "control" is an illusion in a dental situation, both due to the inherent nature of the exam, equipment and my own bad experiences. I cannot help but think about it terms of Foucauldian concepts of power and control.

Hence, why I do not feel "in control" as a dental patient:

1. I am outnumbered from the moment I walk into the office. The dental assistant is there to assist the dentist; she's on his 'team' and I have no one on mine while I am back there. There's nothing like being outnumbered to make you feel defenseless.

2. The way the dental chair reclines so that i am lying flat on my back. i understand that this is the way modern dental chairs work and that it is more comfortable for the dentist, but lying flat on one's back certainly does not reflect a feeling of being in control.

3. The old adage about having the "upper hand"? Well, since the dental team hovers above me, they actually DO have the upper hand! It's very easy to assert physical and mental control over someone when you are above them.

4.The dentist says "Raise your hand if you feel anything". Well, this sounds great in theory, but raising hands is something that schoolchildren do. It is an action taught to them by authority figures (teachers) and subverts their agency. I can raise my hand all I want, but ultimately, the dentist has the decision to "call on me" or acknowledge my signal. Also, this illusion of control shatters incredibly easily. . .say, when a dentist tells you to raise your hand if you "feel anything" and then ignores your signal.

5. Dentists have titles: I always call my dentist Dr. S----- out of respect and politeness, and I can only imagine the amount of work and sacrifice it takes to achieve that title. However, the fact that dentists have titles while their patients (like me) do not, highlights the nature of the power relationship and implies Marxist assumptions relating to education and intelligence.

I wish I had written a paper on this for graduate school!:giggle::jump:

***By the way to anyone reading this, all of my literary theory applications should be taken with a grain of salt. I just like thinking about things in this way because it's what I went to school for and it helps me make sense of the world***:cool:
 
kitkat

kitkat

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The 2 cleanings I had were pretty painless, even the first one which was my first cleaning after 12 years and she had to remove a lot of calculus from my teeth. It didn't really hurt I was just panicking and anxious like usual. I floss regularly, and my gums never bleed when i floss, but after my cleanings I seemed to have a little bleeding, and I wonder if she was too rough with the floss.:hmm: but it was just a tiny bit and it didn't hurt. When i think about going back for another cleaning, I am more concerned about another bad joke at my expense. I really hope she gets the memo about how jokes make me feel worse, not better.

I have never had a scaling before and I was terrified that I'd need one after my 12 years in absentia. I am still surprised that no one has ever mentioned it to me; I don't think i could do it.:(

I think you may have had your teeth scaled and just don't realize it or maybe you are thinking of something else? Anytime calculus is removed from the teeth using either an ultrasonic instrument or a manual scraping type of instrument it is a scaling. There is a deep cleaning which is similar to scaling but more in depth and the term is used rather loosely. My teeth are scaled at every appointment just as standard practice.

Love your additional post about power and gettingthere's post. They are very insightful! I have also worked a little in the linquistics area. I studied communication sciences and disorders with regards to speech language pathology but my advisor for my thesis was a linguist and our research was more linguistics based. I have always been fascinated by language though. Although it tends to cause me to over analyze things a lot! :(
 
shamrockerin

shamrockerin

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Messages
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I think you may have had your teeth scaled and just don't realize it or maybe you are thinking of something else? Anytime calculus is removed from the teeth using either an ultrasonic instrument or a manual scraping type of instrument it is a scaling. There is a deep cleaning which is similar to scaling but more in depth and the term is used rather loosely. My teeth are scaled at every appointment just as standard practice.

If this is true, then it just gives me another reason to distrust the hygienist. I specifically asked her "Is this a regular cleaning?" and she responded "yes". I said "I was worried that when I got here you'd do scaling and not tell me" and she said "No, I wouldn't lie to you". So, the problem appears to be in the terminology, but I still would have appreciated clarification.

Love your additional post about power and gettingthere's post. They are very insightful! I have also worked a little in the linquistics area. I studied communication sciences and disorders with regards to speech language pathology but my advisor for my thesis was a linguist and our research was more linguistics based. I have always been fascinated by language though. Although it tends to cause me to over analyze things a lot! :(

PLEASE, join our geek ranks! perhaps we should all collaborate on a piece regarding semantics and the language of power in regard to the dental profession??;) OR, as an alternative, we each write our own piece and present them as a "package deal" to anyone willing to listen to us???:giggle:
 
kitkat

kitkat

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If this is true, then it just gives me another reason to distrust the hygienist. I specifically asked her "Is this a regular cleaning?" and she responded "yes". I said "I was worried that when I got here you'd do scaling and not tell me" and she said "No, I wouldn't lie to you". So, the problem appears to be in the terminology, but I still would have appreciated clarification.

Hmm...well she was half-true? :confused: Scaling is part of a "regular cleaning" but she probably should have clarified what scaling was and that it was part of the "regular cleaning." Maybe she misunderstood your question. On the bright side, you now know that you survived the scaling just fine and didn't have to stress over it beforehand! ;)

PLEASE, join our geek ranks! perhaps we should all collaborate on a piece regarding semantics and the language of power in regard to the dental profession??;) OR, as an alternative, we each write our own piece and present them as a "package deal" to anyone willing to listen to us???:giggle:

That actually sounds pretty fun! Maybe we could sell it and make some money! :D
 
vicki

vicki

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I have been thinking about all of the comments and remarks that dentists have made over the years that were well intended and meant to be helpful but had the opposite effect on me. While many of the remarks have been very helpful and reassuring there are a few that stick in my mind as making me more anxious.

What a great topic :thumbsup:. There are a few things, both helpful and unhelpful that have been said to me by various dentists over the years, some very helpful and some (although I'm sure they were well meant) not so helpful...

NOT HELPFUL...


  1. Referring to injections as a "Sharp scratch". Scratches hurt. Cats scratch and that can really hurt! I've had that many blood tests and IVs over the years that I know how an injection feels and it's most definitely not a scratch. By warning me that a "sharp scratch" is coming up, it implies that it will hurt, when in reality, it might not. It can cause more anxiety, not less.
  2. Referring to injections as a "Bit of a sting". See number 1 above. Bees sting and they hurt. A lot.
  3. Referring to possible pain from injections or during treatment as "pressure". It might be helpful for some people because "pressure" doesn't sound as painful as "pain", but to me it just makes me feel that the dentist is trying to dumb it down, they think that I don't know the difference between pressure and pain and that they think the pain that they're causing me, isn't as bad as I think it is.
  4. When laying the chair back (which I absolutely dread), saying either "I'm just going to drop you back" or "I'm just going to put you back". When things are dropped, they break and it's a bad thing. "Put you back" implies that the dentist is in control of the situation, when really it should be a two-way thing. Even worse than that though, is laying the chair back without any warning. That is guaranteed to send me into panic, so some sort of comment or acknowledgment is needed; better choices include "Let's lay you back" or "Let's lie you back and have a look" (examples I've heard before).


HELPFUL...


  1. Instead of referring to the injection by describing how it will feel to warn me that it's coming, a previous dentist used to say (when I knew that the injection was imminent), "OK, you just open when you're ready". I usually spend most of my appointments with my eyes shut so that I don't see anything, but by saying this, I was both prepared for the injection to happen and also in control of when it would happen.
  2. During parts of treatment that may potentially be uncomfortable or unpleasant (which for me includes any injections, drilling, x-rays or impression taking), plenty of praise makes a difference. Simple comments such as "Well done" and "You're doing really well", especially if I'm trembling like a leaf or very anxious, can make me feel slightly less of an idiot whilst I'm in the chair. Any praise has to be genuinely meant though; you can tell a lot from a person's tone of voice.
  3. A previous dentist a few years ago, if he saw that I was getting more anxious or starting to panic, would say "Well done... Nice and relaxed..." in a very calming voice and I don't know why, but it really did have a calming effect. Tone of voice is everything though. If you're trying to help soothe or calm someone, your tone of voice needs to match the state you're trying to help them achieve i.e. calm, clear and softly spoken. During hypnotherapy training (a few years ago now! :p), we were taught that when hypnotising someone, particularly if the person is anxious, the tone of voice that you should use is something similar to the way you would read a calming bedtime story to a small child. Obviously, any use of child like language with an adult patient is a no-no though!
 
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