Creating a comfortable environment, informing them and building trust are the keys to overcoming odontophobia
Undoubtedly, during your career as a dentist you have had or will have had a patient with odontophobia or fear of the dentist.
This disorder, which can cause anxiety and even panic attacks in the most extreme cases, is more common than it seems and even the World Health Organization (WHO) lists it as one of the most common phobias. The consequence of this fear is the deterioration of oral health, which can lead to serious dental problems.
In general, odontophobia usually occurs in people who anticipate possible negative consequences of their dental appointments, such as pain, fear of needles and even the sounds and smells. Therefore, they avoid them, sometimes for years, aggravating the possibility of having severe problems in the future.
Therefore, as a dental professional you must know how to identify these types of disorders in your patients and create solutions for them by establishing good communication as the first premise.
One of the key points in dealing with patients with fear of the dentist is not to underestimate their problem and to normalize it. This way you will transmit to the patient the confidence they need from their first visit to the clinic.
You can start with a gentle and personalized first appointment for this type of patient to gradually advance in the following appointments eliminating the fear of treatment, pain or punctures.
For this, the most important thing is to inform the patient properly and make sure that they understand everything that is being said while maintaining a friendly and professional attitude.
Here you can use technology (types of sedation to avoid pain, materials to be used and the reasons why) to explain the treatment, preventing possible objections from the patient and offering them the best options for their treatment.
Finally, breaks, pauses to ask the patient how they are or if they need anything are recommendations that should be considered when dealing with people with odontophobia. Having a sign indicating when to stop or allowing them to bring their own music are also aspects that help to generate more confidence in the patient and make them more comfortable.
As a dentist, you can’t forget the youngest members of the family, as a large percentage of children are afraid of the dentist. This is mainly due to fear of the unknown.
Explaining the treatment to them in an easy way that they can understand is crucial. Pictures or drawings and rewards at the end of the check-up are good strategies for this.
In conclusion, as a dentist you must be prepared for this type of situation and know how to approach your work with people with odontophobia or fear of the dentist. In this way, you will prevent patients from postponing their appointments, provide them with a good experience and prevent more serious and complex problems in the future.