It is estimated that as many as 75% of adults in the U.S. have some degree of anxiety related to dental care. Approximately 5-10% of U.S. adults have what can be described as severe anxiety such that they avoid dental care at all costs.
While there are several causes for dental anxiety, research indicates that the most common cause is direct experiences the person has had in the past. My own 25 years of treating patients with dental anxieties bears this out. In fact, my own experiences as a child patient support this!
I recently saw a patient who had awful dental experiences as a child. As we discussed her experiences further, she came to realize that in her case, it wasn’t the treatment itself that created her anxiety but HOW she was treated by the dentist and staff.
Research indicates that while an upcoming dental procedure can cause anxiety, the manner of the dentist and staff is very important. Dentists who were considered impersonal, uncaring, uninterested or “cold” were found to produce high dental anxiety among patients even if the dental procedure was not painful.
For this reason, choosing a dentist can be a daunting task. How do you know that the dentist you choose will be receptive to your concerns?
Our dental practice has evolved into one that caters to those persons with significant concerns regarding dental care. It initially started with anxious patients entering our practice by chance but as our reputation for success has spread, we now have therapists who refer their patients directly to our office.
I don’t see our approach to patient care as some sort of magic trick. It simply begins with taking the time upfront to listen to our patients’ concerns and developing trusting adult-to-adult relationships. I like how one patient described our office as a “safe” place.
While real and sincere “TLC” is important, I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on technology. It is wonderful how dentistry has changed and improved over the years. Technology allows us to do great dentistry in a comfortable and more efficient manner.
Lastly, I am supported by what I honestly feel is the best staff around. They have a caring, empathic nature which adds to our success and the betterment of our patients’ health and well-being.
It’s no wonder that we have many patients who state that they are no longer afraid to come to the dentist. It’s awesome!
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