Emotional or Psychological Issues
First and foremost, you need to keep in mind that some individuals suffer from certain emotional and psychological issues that can lead to dental phobia. While these conditions might not be directly related to dentistry, they can be triggered in case a person feels helpless, for instance. Some people have anxiety that can manifest itself in unknown situations and around unknown people. Other people might be victims of domestic abuse and experience panic attacks if someone invades their personal space. Perhaps you will encounter a veteran with PTSD that gets uncomfortable if they feel they are not in control.
One good approach to handling fears like these is presenting your patients with a questionnaire that can check if they have certain doubts about the whole process and requirements that would help them feel comfortable. You might be able to consult with a psychologist to ensure you cover all the bases.
Fear Of Certain Things
While there are people who are afraid of the unknown, there are also those that have specific fears. For example, some individuals are scared of needles, others of choking or pain, in general. Invasion of personal space doesn’t have to be related to any prior incident, some people simply don’t like it.
Having patients fill out a questionnaire or simply talking to them directly can help you see what they are afraid of. Once you know what their fears and triggers are, you’ll be able to properly explain to them the whole procedure, how it will go, and which instruments you will use. You can come up with a safe word that will signal to you that they are uncomfortable and that they would appreciate a break. Although some things cannot be avoided, hopefully, they will start feeling relaxed around you to allow you to do everything you need to do to preserve their dental health.
Unpleasant Prior Experiences
As much as you try your hardest to be the best dentist you can be, you probably cannot say the same for every person in your field. It’s important to remember that some people have had terrible experiences with dentists. Whether they ran into a novice who still hadn’t fine-tuned their approach to patients, a negligent dentist that didn’t take proper care of their tools and premises, or simply had an issue that took too long and created unnecessary tension, there are various reasons why someone might have developed a dental phobia.
Undoing the damage that was done by your predecessors can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. For starters, you want to ensure you take proper care of your dental handpieces. Keep them clean and have them repaired as soon as you notice an issue. Then, you need to pay attention to your interior. Hire cleaning services to have everything looking spotless and make sure you use some pleasant and calming décor. Lastly, you want to work on your and every employee’s approach to patients. Be kind, friendly, and approachable.
Embarrassment Over Their Dental Hygiene
Finally, while there might be countless other, more personal, reasons why someone is afraid of the dentist, we cannot overlook the fact that many individuals are simply embarrassed to show up to the dentist’s office with teeth and mouth that are in a bad condition. They think they will be judged for their improper dental hygiene routine that led to cavities, missing teeth, or other issues.
There is no better way to deal with this than to be kind and not criticize them. Instead of focusing on the negatives, teach them what they can do in the future to ensure these problems don’t come back once you’ve handled them.
As you can see, there are various reasons why an individual might be scared of the dentist. Make sure to talk to your patients or give them questionnaires in order to see how to approach their specific problems.