Many people have phobias of some kind, some are irrational and some are not. I never belittle a dental phobia. I myself have a phobia of spiders yet I know that the harmless spiders we have in this country are unlikely to come near me and even if they did the worst I would experience physically would be a tickly sensation. I respect dental phobias because they are so often founded on something far more rational than my own phobia. So often dental phobias are triggered my a previous bad experience at the dentist. Unfortunately the result of this is avoidance of coming to the dentist. This allows dental problems to worsen to a point where more serious intervention is required. For example a twinge in a tooth can often be fixed with a simple filling. But when a dental phobic puts off coming they are often forced to finally come by the extent of a severe tooth ache which leaves them miserable and in intolerable pain. Not only this but a spreading dental infection can even become life threatening. A tooth will often then require root canal treatment and a crown, or need to be extracted, when an earlier visit would have solved the problem with a simple filling.
The key is to work with each patient individually on their fear, firstly by finding out details of any previous bad experiences and finding out which aspect especially bothers them. Some patients have a fear of injections but don’t mind drilling, others are fine with injections but don’t like the drilling, whilst some feel panicky about breathing if water from the drill collects in their mouth. Although some patients have a more general fear, I tend to find with most people there is one specific aspect that worries them the most.
I take pride in my injection technique. Usually the most discomfort during an injection is not caused by the needle going it, but by the dentist injecting the anesthetic solution too fast. A careful slow injection really does help enormously. Many patients tell me they didn’t feel the injection at all. For patients who don’t like the sensation of the water collecting in the back of their mouth I work closely with my assistant to control the water spray to minimize this. I have patients who like to have breathing breaks every few seconds and am always happy to accommodate this. We can also use a rubber sheet over the tooth that prevents any water at all from going into the mouth.
Another thing I find that has triggered dental phobia for many patients is a brusque manner or rough technique. I can guarantee to always be caring and thoughtful in my approach and gentle in my technique. I think it is vital to offer patients options, and ensure that we work together to make plans they are entirely happy with. I explain things in a simple manner without using dental jargon. Pictures can be rally helpful so I will take photos inside your mouth so you can see the problem I am talking about for yourself. I also take pictures inside the mouth of work I have completed so you can see the quality of my work. I find all these things help patients to feel confident and comfortable in my care.
If phobias are more serious I can offer oral sedation. At the practice we can also offer inhalation sedation (gas and air), and if needed we can arrange IV sedation at another practice. However it is several years since anyone has actually needed to ask me for this.
If you are thinking about fighting that fear and making an appointment you have two options. You are welcome to come for a free consultation, to meet me, have a chat and see the practice. Alternatively you can book in for an hour long new patient assessment and treatment planning appointment. Contact details are on the home page www.drlucynichols.com