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What does it take to trust a dentist?

  • Thread starter krlovesherkids777
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krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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Just thinking after talking to a friend who mentioned its hard to find a dentist because its hard to trust.. well.. when do we find we have trust with our dentist? how long does it take? what contributes to that.. wondering what are some of your stories.

For me it happens in levels

There is some bit of a click on the first visit. like an impression and feeling I'm safe and listened to , enough to come back and allow any type of treatment to be tried. The first visit with my current dentist was recementing a temp crown, my old dentist had started but left the practice and the partner who is the owner finished. Well technically some dentists don't use local for just recementing, but the tooth was senstiive and not root canaled so I"m sure he could see on my face I was worried and immediately offered local so I would make sure to be comfortable.. I knew at that point on a certain level that he paid attention to my body language being anxious and wanted to make sure even the smallest treatment was painfree and comfortable.

Honesty helps , if I have some glimpse into the honesty and integrity of a dentist . When this dentist had finished the crown, I went home and to me it looked a little off shade but didn't know . like how do I tell this dentist being a little new to me, this shade is off ..and how will he react. well I asked him what he thought about it and he immediately looked and told me "you know , you are right and we can redo it for you whenever you want at no charge".. though I decided not to do it at this point because I was dealing with other issues, I was really put to ease more knowing he was honest and willing to do make things right. more trust built.

I need to feel and know I will not be shamed. I went in after my crown for a full exam and plan. Honestly I pretty much hate the looking at the big picture appointments.. I have so many issues it is overwhelming at times to think about. But this dentist made me feel, #1. It wasn't my fault, #2. It was managable. #3. We could do it at my pace #4. wasn't pressuring me at all for alot of work at once 4. No fear tactics. and just no shame at all... I felt alot of trust built at this appt even though no work or treatment was done. There was a solid plan in place .

Trust was also earned when he gave me painfree anesthetic shots , each time I loosened my grip on the chair just a bit more. :) also with pain free treatment .. he made sure I felt nothing during treatment .

He respected my stopsigns . always a great trustbuilder knowing someone will stop when I"m scared or need reassurance or a question answered.

Makes sure I have information and questions answered builds trust.

Being kind, patient and gentle in treatment , as well as staff being the same.

I think it builds and builds over time. The more treatments the more experience, positive momentum. Brene Brown one of my favorite authors talks about Trust being the stacking and layering of small moments over time. This is so true in trusting our dentists I think.
 
FearfulInMA

FearfulInMA

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I agree with everything above. I do think there’s something intangible about whether or not there is a good initial feeling about a dentist or anyone else. This is something that comes as a result of all of our previous experiences and may have nothing to do with the dentist her/himself. For example, my childhood dentist, who I was terrified of, was a middle-aged Jewish man with a lot of facial hair and arm hair. I think I would have run screaming if, when I first met my current dentist, he looked like that. It’s not necessarily fair, but sometimes the baggage we carry around doesn’t make much sense.

The other thing I’ll add to the above is that, though I have trusted my dentist enough from the beginning in order to allow him to fix my teeth, the level of trust over the years has grown in ways I would not have envisioned. I think some of this is related to the predictability that happens with time and interactions. I think some of it is also that, as I have trusted more, I’ve allowed myself to be more open and vulnerable about my fears, and positive responses to this, in turn has led to increased trust.

I also think that there was something about his complete confidence in both his and my ability to get through the dental work together that helped to build trust - it really felt like I was taking an active role and that things were being done ‘with’ and not ‘to’ me. As a trauma survivor this we extremely helpful.

I’ve been going to the same dentist for more than 11 years. A couple of weeks ago, I lost a filling and it needed to be replaced. I was anxious before the appointment (though not debilitated by it), but, because of the trust built, I was able to schedule an appointment quickly, go in and have the filling replaced. The injection, which had been the worst part for me was totally ok and the rest was ok too.

To anyone just starting out on her/his journey, please believe me that it does get better and that, with the right dentist, you can build trust and confidence.
 
Judythecat

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I “inherited” my lovely dentist because my previous one went on maternity leave. When the previous dentist returned part-time, her hours weren’t great for me, so I stuck with her replacement. At that point I was trotting back and forth for six monthly checkups and scale and polishes with no issues, and had no strong feelings beyond her being pleasant, kind, and competent.

In April 2017 I started on a chain of dental woes, which meant I saw her almost 50 times that year! Over that period I wept in the chair numerous times, presented with pain that had no dental cause she could find, and had numerous treatments. She was kind, patient, and made me feel like we were a team, along with the lovely nurse who held my hand during every injection. I must have been an absolute nuisance, but she never, ever made me feel that way.

When things got to a point where my dentist just didn’t know what to do with me, she referred me to hospital, where I was eventually diagnosed with a type of neuralgia - there is nothing wrong with my teeth, the nerves in my face are mis-firing.

I am now on three monthly checkups, because I get scared the pain is actually a tooth, not nerves, and even then I tend not to make it to three months without needing something looked at. She must feel like crying when she sees my name pop up on the computer. Sometimes I bring cakes/biscuits and leave them at reception because I am so grateful.
 
Judythecat

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Actually, that doesn’t even answer the question. I was never a phobic patient, just scared of needles. Ignore me!
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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Judythecat. what you wrote has everybit to do with trust :).. and even if your not a phobic patient.. love it!!
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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Also love you bring them cakes and biscuits because you are grateful.. I do this too :) I really believe in appreciating others in a treat sort of way when I can .
 
Judythecat

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Also love you bring them cakes and biscuits because you are grateful.. I do this too :) I really believe in appreciating others in a treat sort of way when I can .
I think being a dentist must be a thankless task a lot of the time - no-one loves going - so a few cakes is the least I can do.
 
FearfulInMA

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Judythecat - you trusted your dentist enough to give you injections so I think that your response was totally relevant.

I also often bring treats and other small gifts to my appointments. Earlier this year, I just stopped in to drop off cookies I had made no appointment, just cookies - that was a first. I also think I must be quite a challenging patient, so I like to do something to try to make up for that. Lol!

There’s an old thread somewhere about this (not started by me). I think it’s nice that so many of us do this :)

Anyhow... now I’m way off topic.

Ok... back to the topic now. How did people start to trust their dentist?
 
M

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There are a few things for me. The dentist has to be compassionate and not make me feel like I am being silly for being so anxious. They also have to not be quick to jump to a treatment without ruling out simple solutions first (like jumping to a root canal when a simple filling replacement might take care of it). I also want everything explained to me. If a dentist just says what needs done and doesn't explain why or show me on the x rays, it causes distrust.
 
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Mugz

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Judythecat - you trusted your dentist enough to give you injections so I think that your response was totally relevant.

I also often bring treats and other small gifts to my appointments. Earlier this year, I just stopped in to drop off cookies I had made no appointment, just cookies - that was a first. I also think I must be quite a challenging patient, so I like to do something to try to make up for that. Lol!

There’s an old thread somewhere about this (not started by me). I think it’s nice that so many of us do this :)

Anyhow... now I’m way off topic.

Ok... back to the topic now. How did people start to trust their dentist?
Hi Fearful,

Just had to share this tidbit I picked up from my last session at the therapist. Apparently there's fight, flight, freeze and lesser known ”befriend” and your generosity with cookies in a round about way boosts your own courage and is a productive way of working through trust issues in addition to being a whopper of an act of kindness. You may already know this but I did not. Google it - it makes sense when you read up on it.

Mugz
 
FearfulInMA

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Like Stockholm Syndrome :grin:

I usually think about it as a form of the psychological construct of ‘undoing’... where you do the opposite of what you really want to do.
 
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Yes!! I totally see the similarity especially those of us truly traumatized by dentists. It is a more proactive way of dealing with fear and puts you in more control - even if it's only in your mind. I showed up with boxes of donuts at 5:30 am the last time I had surgery. Sweetened them all right up!
 
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Someonme who does not say anything mean about our teeth, we try our best to look after them, some got more problems like overcrowding problems. someone who is friendly.
 
S

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This is a great conversation, and I concur with all that has been said by all on this thread. To put my thoughts on this into a nutshell, as I have mentioned elsewhere on here, basically it is like a dating game; one has to have an immediate rapport in the first instance with a prospective clinician. For those starting out as we had to, my advice is always: if possible, meet the person first before any review or treatment takes place, preferably in a room other than the surgery. Next, be open and honest about where you are at in the outset; the future outcome and relationship is far more likely to be a success if you are. Finally, take things at your own pace; its your mouth and money and so you call the tune here, not the other way around. If a clinician cannot work with this, walk away and look elsewhere; the right person is out there waiting to help you.......... ;)
 
Sol

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Like the discussion in this thread, lots of good ideas and comments. This is something that I'm still learning to cope with or figure out for myself.

I've been seeing the same dentist for awhile now but due to me not being very open about my fears with them at the start (and really disliking the hygienist there) have decided recently to find a new dental practice. Just a general thank you for the information on this site and the supportive community. It helped with making my decision about looking else where easier.
 
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Here's my list in no particular order
1. Allow love ones back and allow them to sit behind the patient.
2. Offer some kind of sensory input whether it's a weighted blanket or even the x-ray shield.
3. Ask the patient why their nervous and listen to their responses.
4. Ask the patient if they want to know everything your doing. Some like knowing exactly what's going on, some don't
5. Don't leave the big needle sitting out.
6. Let the patient be in control. Ask permission before you start anything new
7. Set up separate signals for "I need a break" or "this really hurts."
8. Do not explain a problem without offering solutions. For example, don't say "it hurts more because your anxious." A better example would be "I understand why the local isnt working well, here are my options to make you more comfortable."
9. Try not to keep the patient waiting in the chair.
10. (This might be a weird quirk of mine but) put the chair down before the patient gets in it. There is nothing more terrifying to me than the minute the chair goes down.
11. Make the patient feel in control. Ask permission before you start anything different.
12. Don't blow the patient off if they are in pain. Don't suggest an oral surgeon just so they can be knocked out. Many patients can't afford it and there is nothing worse than waiting months for another appointment because the dentist doesn't want to deal with their anxiety.
12. Act like a human. Introduce yourself, crack a joke, make small talk, just do something before getting down to business.
 
krlovesherkids777

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Just love all these replies.. I really hope somehow dentists are lurking and can see what means so much to their patients in gaining out trust.. These are so well put and agree with all!
 
kitkat

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For me, trust came from my dentist setting an expectation and then following through by describing everything as it was happening and focusing a lot on sensations. Knowing exactly what to expect (even if it was something unpleasant, I was always warned about it first) and she also warned me about the little things that should not be a big deal because I was very jumpy at first to just about every sensation if I was caught off guard. It helped me feel in control by being able to anticipate sensations before they happened. I didn’t necessarily need to know exactly what she was doing but from my perspective, I needed to know what it would feel like. It also helped to know how long treatment would last and how close we were to being done. She would break appointments up into percentages and let me know how much we had left to go if it was a particularly long appointment which also helped with feeling in control. She established and honored my stop signal early on which was huge for me. She also would stop if she was just getting vibes from me that I wasn’t comfortable and would check in with me before continuing with treatment as I wasn’t initially super confident with using it. She has also redone fillings free of charge if they were not really sitting properly...I have made the mistake of mentioning something about them and then she insists on perfecting them...I’ve learned to stop doing that unless it’s something I really want to address!
 
kitkat

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Oh I would also say that she acknowledged my fears without really having a big reaction to them (she was very matter of fact about it) also helped me to feel safe and I didn’t have the pressure to put on a “brave face” as much. I still kind of wanted to save face but if she addressed the elephant in the room (my anxiety) I felt like I could let my guard down more because it was out in the open and I knew she was ok with it.
 
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Its good to read so many different ideas on this crucial topic. One thing I did forget to add on what can be good and which did help me enormously, is the "show tell do" technique which is mentioned on this site in the professionally written questions and answers area. In my case, the procedure I was most fearing at the time was the dental "charting". My lovely little lady simply showed me on my hand what was involved and what to expect; after that, all was relatively simple. So obvious, but often overlooked, although this technique is usually employed with children (usually to try and make things fun rather than scary). I will add this experience to my journal titled "Smiles Better" as it got overlooked........ Simon XX
 
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