Summary

Fear is a major cause of avoidance of dental treatment for millions of people. Some of the common dental fears and how they originate are explored. What is presented here is a technique to treat fear with interpersonal skills utilizing simple behavioral principles. The goal is to either eliminate the fear, or to reduce it to a level that permits the patient to cope successfully with the dental experience.

This technique has been termed “iatrosedation” and is defined as the act of making calm by the doctor’s behavior. The 2 major categories of iatrosedation are:

  1. The Iatrosedative Interview
  2. The Iatrosedative Clinical Encounter

The Iatrosedative interview is designed to initiate fear reduction through a relearning process. It is brief and economical, usually lasting no more than 10 minutes. The clinical encounter continues the process, thus dropping the fear level further.

© Nathan Friedman. This paper originally appeared in “Emergencies in Dental Practice” (1967) by Frank McCarthy, MD, DDS (ed.).