Understanding patient fears
ATLANTA, U.S.: There is no universal reason that dictates why individuals are afraid of visiting the dentist, and every person will have a different “trigger” that sets off their negative feelings.
One of the most cited causes of dental fear is past trauma experienced at a dental practice. This may include anything from receiving painful treatment to simply feeling uncomfortable in the chair. General stress, anxiety and other mental conditions can also manifest as fear of the dentist, especially if people are afraid of losing control or have trust issues. Other reasons may include past abuse or another fear such as agoraphobia—the fear of being in a situation you cannot escape—creating a combination of factors that can be very difficult to overcome.
The repercussions of patients avoiding check-ups owing to fear are obvious―it is likely that these individuals will have a poorer standard of oral health compared with those that do have regular care. Furthermore, they may have serious oral health issues that, if left unchecked, may result in expensive emergency appointments down the line that could exacerbate their fears further if they have to receive invasive treatment.
For those patients who can conquer their fears enough to visit the dental practice, it can still be a challenging scenario for patient and professional alike. Patients with dental fear may be more likely to reject treatment plans or to be uncooperative in the chair. Therefore, it is important to investigate ways to help lessen the discomfort for these patients as much as possible.
Keep them calm
One good strategy is for the dentist to encourage patients to talk about their concerns in order to minimize their fear. For example, if someone is scared of the sound of the drill, dental professionals can discuss alternative methods of treatment that are silent. For patients who do not like the loss of control experienced, clinicians can try to talk them through each stage of the oral examination and treatment, keeping them fully informed so that they can mentally prepare themselves and feel like they have a handle on the situation.
It also makes sense to utilize solutions that can minimize chair time for these patients, such as the CS 3800 wireless intraoral scanner from Carestream Dental. A lightning-fast scanner at the cutting edge of intraoral scanner technology, the CS 3800 wireless is a lightweight solution that has a proven scanning time of 25 seconds for a single arch.* Additionally, the scanner features an impressive 16 × 14 mm field of view and enhanced depth, and this easily captures all necessary details. In this way, even though scans are swift, dentists never have to compromise on outcomes.
Managing fears in the future
Owing to the complex nature of dental fear, there is no cure-all solution available. However, by taking the time to talk to patients candidly about their fears and making adjustments to help ensure treatment is as swift and comfortable as possible, dental professionals can make a significant difference.
For more information, visit Carestream Dental’s website www.carestreamdental.com. For the latest news and updates, follow Carestream Dental on Facebook and Instagram @carestreamdental.emea.
*Internal testing completed on a 3D model. Scanning time may vary based on the tooth model and PC.