Most of us chew gum, and we chew it for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s a piece before a first date, or after a particularly strong cup of coffee, many of us use the chewy stuff to keep our mouths smelling clean and fresh as we go about our day.
We see gum promoted in advertisements as something you can use not only to keep your breath smelling fresh; but to whiten and clean your teeth, improving your oral health.
Exaggerated marketing, or bona-fide fact? The answer lies in the ingredients of the gum you choose to chew.
The Potential Benefits
It comes as no surprise that if you’re chewing gum with a lot of sugar in it, it’s going to be bad for your teeth. Sugar promotes the growth of plaque bacteria, which in turn promotes the development of cavities, the decay of enamel, and other issues.
It’s because of this that many companies, such as Wrigley’s, have begun to use both aspartame and a substance known as Xylitol as a substitute for sugar in their products.
A naturally occurring compound that has been shown to prevent tooth decay, the National Centre for Biotechnology Information writes that Xylitol, “reduces the levels of mutans streptococci … in plaque and saliva by disrupting their energy production processes, leading to futile energy cycle and cell death … Consumption of xylitol chewing gum for >3 weeks leads to both long-term and short-term reduction in salivary and plaque S. mutans levels.”
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Less bacteria on your teeth means less enamel-eating acid created, which means a healthier mouth. Brands like Confadent advertise and discuss their use of Xylitol as a safe alternative to aspartame, and a plaque reducer.
According to Delta Dental of California, “With xylitol use over a period of time, the types of bacteria in the mouth change and fewer decay-causing bacteria survive on tooth surfaces.”
This sounds like a big-time benefit for your pearly whites, but how do the results compare to projection? Some research shows that the evidence regarding the long term benefits of Xylitol as a dental hygiene product is still unclear.
According to a review published by the American Dental Association in 2015, while there is some evidence that Xylitol may reduce tooth decay over a period of years, the evidence is low quality.
Research published by the Cochrane Library website suggests that there just isn’t enough high quality evidence to confirm that Xylitol prevents tooth decay.
Philip Riley, M.P.H., of the School of Dentistry at the University of Manchester in the UK, is quoted as writing, “More well-conducted, randomized placebo-controlled trials that are large enough (in terms of number of randomized participants) to show a difference, if one exists, are needed.”
The Cochrane Library review stresses in its conclusions, “We found some low quality evidence to suggest that fluoride toothpaste containing xylitol may be more effective than fluoride-only toothpaste … The effect estimate should be interpreted with caution due to high risk of bias and the fact that it results from two studies that were carried out by the same authors in the same population.”
So, What to Do?
In the end, the conclusions are yours to draw based on the evidence given, but it’s safe to say that chewing gum with Xylitol is better for your teeth than its sugary counterparts. While there needs to be some more research done to better reinforce this conclusion, Xylitol has indeed been shown to reduce cavity causing bacteria in the mouth.
Still, if you want to keep your teeth healthy, at the end of the day no gum is a substitute for regular brushing and flossing. For more information on Xylitol, its benefits and drawbacks, you can check out this article from Access Dental, or this one from Delta Dental.
When concentrating on efficiency and making the best use of the available space, it can be easy to forget a dental office also must provide the right atmosphere for clients. Although many dental practitioners have done their best to reduce anxiety for clients, Ondontophobia is still all too real for many people.
While some of these individuals require therapy to manage this issue, practitioners can still do their part to reduce anxiety experienced by anyone dreading a trip to the dentist. A great way to start is by reducing a client’s apprehension before they sit in the examination chair.
Here are some things to keep in mind for dental office design that will help to generate an inviting, relaxed atmosphere for your patients.
In the old days, dental offices often had a tropical fish tank in the waiting room. These provided a gentle distraction for patients, particularly children. Many still do, but now many offices are also installing televisions.
These generally play programs and movies without the sound, but with closed captions activated so interested viewers can follow what is happening.
A TV can provide a relaxing diversion, but you need to be careful about what is on. Violent shows or ones that are particularly suspenseful will be counterproductive, as will news channels on days when the reporting is particularly negative.
Soothing Colours and Artwork
Personal preference always plays a big role when choosing colours for an office, but here are some suggestions to consider. When choosing your colour scheme, aim for hues that induce a sense of tranquility and do not have any hint of threat.
Colours able to bring about a calming energy include those people commonly enjoy in nature, such as sky blue, green/sage, and tan/brown.
White suggests cleanliness and reminds some of anti-septic, but can be triggering for some due to its hospital connotations.
Bright colours, while attractive, can actually put people on edge (red is particularly strong in this regard), so try to stay away from them.
Do not choose only a single colour; pick a main one as well as another that provides a notable contrast, but not too harsh (e.g. a darker and lighter version of the same hue). Solicit opinions from your staff, and ask what they would prefer for areas only they will use.
Artwork can also provide both decoration and visual interest. Be sure to choose art the average person can easily relate to and does not include an abundance of off-putting shades.
Plants and Furniture
Plants will help to reinforce the natural theme and suggest that your practice is a healthy and vibrant place. Be sure to regularly water and maintain them so wilted, dying leaves are never apparent. If it is apparent that everyone on staff is too busy to ensure this happens, hire an outside company to do it.
Choose chairs that look and feel comfortable, but can also hold up well to steady traffic and children. Side tables should be big enough to accommodate patient’s incidentals, but not take up so much space that it becomes awkward to move around.
Include magazine and brochure racks for those who would prefer to read.
Provide a View
If building design permits, and you are lucky enough to be in a picturesque area, provide a window view in the waiting and exam rooms.
This offers another healthy and natural way for patients to get their minds off their procedures, both before and during the process.
Everyone has a bad day at work from time to time. But if you find yourself feeling physically, mentally and emotionally drained on a regular basis, you may be on the road to chairside burnout.
It’s not hard to see why dentistry has one of the highest burnout rates of any profession. While rewarding, the work of a dental hygienist can also be enormously stressful. Hygienists often deal with long hours, tight schedules, and fussy patients in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment. One study found one in eight dental hygienists leaves work feeling emotionally exhausted by the demands of the job.
Follow these steps to prevent stress from leading to full-blown chairside burnout.
1) Know the Signs
Stress is hard to miss, but it’s not always as easy to see a burnout coming. The daily marathon of cleanings and consultations leaves little time to stop and think about yourself. Recognizing the signs of burnout is the first step to preventing it.
Burnout is marked by feelings of hopelessness, cynicism, and resentfulness. Once stress takes its toll, a normally-cheerful hygienist may start to become impatient and critical. The job may feel less rewarding or purposeful than it did in the beginning. Enthusiasm is replaced by a lack of energy, leading to less productivity. Some people suffer unexplained headaches or other physical complaints.
If you can relate to these signs, take time to gather your thoughts and reflect on your career as a dental hygienist. Try to understand where your negative feelings are coming from. Is it the physical demands of the work? Frustrating office politics? Lack of work-life balance? Like a bad toothache, you can only treat the problem once you’ve found the source of the pain.
2) Take Care of Yourself
Self-care is important in any career, but especially so for dental hygienists. You must make time in your busy day to do things that help you replenish your emotional energy, like walking the dog, taking a long shower, gardening, or listening to your favourite album. Use this time to focus on the present moment and practice positive thinking.
Since being a hygienist is physically demanding, it’s also important to take care of your body. Cardio is proven to help reduce burnout, and light exercise can help reduce the muscle and joint strain. If you’re feeling the burn, ask your doctor about physical therapy or other treatment for work-related injury.
3) Maintain a Work-Life Balance
Your work as a hygienist is important, but it doesn’t have to define who you are. Don’t fall into the trap of making life all about your job. If you’re constantly thinking about being chairside, even on your days off, you’ll only accelerate the burnout effect on your career.
Having things to look forward to outside of work is key to avoiding burnout. It can be something structured, like a college course or a sports league, or a casual hobby like photography. If you’re starting to feel burned out on the job, try something new in your off-time to instill new energy in your life.
4) Connect with Other Hygienists
It’s said that engagement is the antithesis of burnout, but when you’re having difficulty at work, it’s easy to forget why you pursued this career in the first place. People who experience chairside burnout often lose sight of the things they loved about being a dental hygienist.
One of the best ways to stay engaged in your work is to network with other dental hygienists. Your colleagues know the ups and downs of dentistry better than anyone. Sharing stories and advice will help you broaden your knowledge and keep in touch with your passion for dentistry. You can connect with others through online groups and forums, continuing professional development events, and your local hygienist association.
Almost everyone concerned about the health of their teeth brushes regularly, but they may not know exactly why toothpaste performs the cleansing magic it does. They may not even know they also receive fluoride every day in their community’s drinking water.
There are various cleaning components in toothpaste and one of the primary ones is fluoride. The discovery of fluoride's cleaning abilities was a boon in preserving dental health. Toothpaste and tap water then became convenient fluoride delivery systems to aid in the fight against tooth decay.
A Natural Cavity Fighter
The discovery of fluoride’s ability to keep our teeth healthy dates back to the early 20th century. A pair of dentists in Colorado discovered that people in the area had teeth unusually resistant to decay. This was due to the high degree of natural fluoride deposits in the area, which had found their way into the local drinking water. Fluoride became a regular part of toothpaste beginning in 1914.
In the 1940s, a multi-year study began with the goal of determining whether adding fluoride to drinking water made a notable difference for dental health. The results showed a 60-65% decrease in tooth decay in children born after the experiment began. As a result, a number of states in America began water fluoridation programs to improve their citizens’ oral health.
How Flouride Works
The enamel of your teeth is the natural coating that helps to protect them. When children’s teeth are first forming, fluoride combines with the enamel to help stave off decay during a time of life when teeth are particularly vulnerable to cavities. Fluoride remains valuable throughout the life of your teeth by helping protect them against the ravages of sugar and plaque.
Rare Health Risks
As mentioned, almost everyone’s teeth come into regular contact with fluoride through exposure to drinking water and toothpaste. There are additional fluoride supplements in the form of drops or tablets, and it is also an ingredient in mouthwash. The degree of fluoride in the latter is quite high, so do not swallow it.
High doses of fluoride in water can be bad for you, but this would require ingesting a volume of water with fluoride going well beyond what the normal person drinks.
Excessive fluoride can cause conditions known as dental fluorosis and skeletal fluorosis. You can only come down with dental fluorosis as a child, as ingesting too much fluoride at a young age can lead to white spots appearing on your permanent teeth. Fortunately, degrees of this condition ranking above very mild are almost non-existent.
You can also acquire skeletal fluorosis by taking in too much fluoride. However, you would have to have a very high amount on a daily basis for a very long period. As with dental fluorosis, the odds of contracting this problem are extremely rare.
Government oversight helps to ensure the level of fluoride in drinking water does not exceed safe rates. In Ontario, municipalities follow the guidelines laid out in the Safe Drinking Water Act managed by the Ministry of the Environment.
You know the basics of oral health care: brush twice a day, floss your teeth, avoid sugary snacks, and visit your dentist at least twice a year. Here are 10 tips for oral health care you may not know (and a good refresher if you do!)
1) Brush Smarter
Which is better: a humble manual toothbrush or a fancy electric one? They can be equally effective, but what really matters is your brushing technique.
Don’t just brush up and down or back and forth. Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle and use a gentle, circular motion to clean each surface of the teeth, including the chewing side and the side facing your tongue, for at least two minutes. Brushing harder or faster doesn’t do you any good. In fact, it can actually lead to tooth and gum damage!
2) Don't Forget to Floss
People often think flossing is secondary to brushing, but they are both essential to good oral health. If you aren’t flossing, you’re leaving a third of the surface of the teeth unclean.
The ideal flossing technique is a forward or backward motion, with the floss forming a curved ‘C’ shape around the tooth. Use a fresh part of the floss for each tooth so you aren’t re-inserting the bacteria you just removed.
3) Pay Attention to Sensitive Teeth
Sensitivity to heat and cold is a common dental complaint, and it’s often a sign of an underlying issue like tooth decay, gum disease, or tooth grinding. It’s important to find and treat the source of tooth sensitivity, even if the pain is mild. See your dentist at the first signs of sensitive teeth.
4) Eat Well and Brush Often
You’ve heard it since you were a kid: sugar causes cavities. True, a diet high in sugar can lead to cavities, but the real cause is plaque, produced by bacteria in your mouth that eats the carbohydrates left on teeth after a meal.
While sugar is the biggest cavity culprit, even healthy food leads to some plaque formation. This is why you should brush after every meal, not just after dessert, and avoid eating or drinking anything, aside from water, after you have brushed your teeth at night.
5) Watch Your Fillings
Do you have fillings? If so, you can usually expect them to last for eight to 10 years. However, some fillings break down earlier than that. When a filling starts to chip and break apart, food and bacteria can get caught underneath, causing decay deep in the tooth. Be sure to make a dental appointment if your tooth filling is not holding up.
6) Wear a Mouth Guard
Mouth guards are standard equipment for contact sports like hockey and football. However, less confrontational sports—such as baseball, skiing, and skateboarding—can also pose a risk of injury to your teeth. Even minor dental injuries can lead to long-term consequences, so a mouth guard is a good investment for anyone who participates in a sport on a regular basis.
7) Read the Ingredients on Toothpaste
What’s in your toothpaste? Different kinds of toothpaste—those for desensitizing, tartar control, whitening, et cetera—consist of different active ingredients. Understanding how these ingredients work will help you choose the right toothpaste for you. You should always choose a toothpaste containing fluoride, even if your tap water is already fluoridated.
8) Beat Bad Breath
There are many possible causes of bad breath, but poor oral hygiene is a common source. When you don’t brush and floss regularly, odor-causing bacteria can accumulate between teeth and in the back of your throat. However, bad breath can also be a sign of a medical problem, so have a dentist rule out any oral hygiene issues first.
9) Use Mouthwash as Directed
Mouthwash cannot replace proper brushing and flossing, but it can help boost your oral hygiene and control issues like bad breath, plaque, and oral sores. Be sure to read the instructions on the bottle before using it. Depending on the ingredients, the manufacturer may recommend using it either before or after brushing or flossing for the best results.
10) Make Regular Dental Appointments
Do not wait until you have a problem to see your dentist! Even if your teeth and gums seem fine, the dentist might notice things you can’t feel or see. Scheduling regular dental exams will help you detect and treat cavities, tooth decay, gingivitis, and other oral health issues before they become painful and/or expensive to fix.
Everyone knows dental hygienists clean teeth. But did you know they also examine patients for signs of disease, provide preventative treatment, and educate people on good oral health? Here’s a sneak peek at some of the amazing things you’ll learn in dental school.
Dental hygienists do more than just clean teeth. They examine teeth and gums, chart cavities, place brackets and bands, install arch wires, and take a hands-on role in all kinds of dental procedures. These practical skills are the core of any dental hygienist program.
Once you have learned the fundamentals, you’ll begin to apply what you have learned in a mock clinical setting until you’re ready to assist with real patients.
Tools of the Trade
What's the difference between electric and air-driven handpieces? You’ll know soon. Dental hygienists use a wide range of dental equipment and tools, from simple picks and dental mirrors to high-tech equipment like X-ray machines.
Dental school will teach you to pick the best dental tools for the job.
Treating Different Patients
No two patients are exactly alike. Different people have different needs when it comes to dental care. In dental school, you’ll learn to provide top-notch treatment to people of all ages and backgrounds. Some schools offer courses focusing on the unique needs of people who are elderly, disabled, or have other barriers to receiving dental treatment.
Dental hygienists not only learn the ins and outs of oral anatomy, they also acquire in-depth knowledge of the human body in general. They study various aspects of human biology, right down to the microscopic make-up of tissues and the mechanisms of disease.
Community Health and Advocacy
As members of the dental profession, dental hygienists have a platform to advocate on dental health issues in the community. Many dental schools have a course on public health and advocacy, where you learn how to improve access to dental care and spread the word using marketing and mass media.
Diet plays a huge role in oral health. To help your patients maintain healthy teeth and gums, you must know the science of nutrition. Dental hygienists learn the function of basic nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in the body, along with the impact of nutrition and nutritional deficiencies on oral health. By the time you’re finished dental school, you’ll know more about healthy eating than a dedicated health nut!
Do you have good people skills? If so, you’ll have a leg-up in the dental profession. If not, dental school will help you catch up! Dental hygienists often spend more time speaking with patients than dentists do, and they teach patients to maintain and develop good dental habits. With good communication skills, you can help make the dental office experience more comfortable and beneficial to patients.
Dental school is no walk in the park. Mastering the practical skills takes a great deal of physical strength, endurance, and manual dexterity. Your science courses will demand hours of reading and dedicated studying, testing your ability to analyze problems and think critically. However, at the end of this long road lies a career full of potential! Going through the rigors of dental school will help you discover whether the dental profession is right for you, and if so, what role you want to play within it.
Ergonomics in the Dental Office: Helping to Ensure You Remain Healthy and Comfortable
Friday, December 1, 2017
There has a lot of news recently about the injuries office workers can face if they do not have the proper ergonomic equipment available to them. Proper chairs, monitor height, and stretching exercises are just a few of the recommendations.
However, ergonomics is important in many professions, including dental practices.
Patients likely do not realize just how much physical work is involved on a daily basis for hygienists. However, the hygienists themselves soon come to realize the hard way when aches, pains, and nagging discomfort make themselves known.
Hygienist Jamie Collins, RDH, CDA, recently wrote about this subject for Dentistry IQ, covering the commonly known ailment nicknamed “hygiene hip.”
Aches and Pains
For most people, adjustments and medical appointments follow discomfort. Jamie admits this was also the case for her, but points out hygienists should follow the example set by dental schools and practice prevention.
After all, once discomfort sets in, it means your body is ailing.
Sometimes, these aches and pains indicate that issues are no longer reversible. You don’t want to spend all that time learning your craft only to find yourself in need of a career change because your body is ailing.
As you likely know from your day-to-day duties, you often must spend time in unnatural positions, particularly if the patient complains about the angle you have them on. This increases your danger of hip injuries, and raises the possibility of upper and lower back, neck, and wrist issues.
Have you started to experience problems like this? Chances are, you have.
Jamie points out that 64-93% of dental workers suffer from some kind of work-related Musculoskeletal Disorder. Stiffness, soreness, hip popping; are all signs of MSD, and indicators that you need to make some modifications.
Change Your Chair
How long have you had your operator chair? It is crucial for your body to have proper positioning throughout the day. If your current chair has become misshapen, or was not the best product to begin with, it is time to invest in a new saddle stool to improve your work posture. If the dentist is not willing to cover the cost, consider digging deep and buying the stool yourself. It beats spending time and money at the chiropractor and many uncomfortable days and nights.
Proper magnification and Instrumentation
Don’t forget the other equipment you work with. The better the magnification of the oral cavity, the less you have to bend, so consider adding a personal light to your loupes.
Practice preventive maintenance with your instruments. Sharp instruments decrease treatment time and physical strain, and a cordless handpiece helps to reduce possible wrist fatigue.
Breaks and Exercise
Frequent breaks help to prevent muscle fatigue, which leads to poor posture and discomfort. Practice stretching exercises during your shift, and be sure to exercise off the job. Pilates and yoga are very helpful, but Jamie emphasizes the key is to take time for your body and listen to its needs. Being comfortable aids productivity, which improves performance and the quality of care you can provide for your clients.
It's human nature to concentrate on the main details of a situation. For example, if you were going in for an open-heart procedure, you would likely concern yourself with the surgeon’s track record. This particular specialist is the main part of the operation, but they receive assistance from other highly qualified professionals.
If you a love a movie, you make a point of remembering the director’s name, but not necessarily the editor or key grip, both of whom are likely also exceptional at their jobs. Let’s face it, there are very few specialists who work entirely alone, but it is often customary for the world to have only one person take a bow.
Veteran dental hygienist Candice Feagle attended a function awhile back and when mentioning what she did for a living, the person she spoke to replied, “Oh, you’re just a hygienist.” Most of us take pride in what we do and it was understandable that Candice had a negative reaction, though she kept it to herself. It wasn’t the first time this had happened to her or other people in this profession.
However, after mulling it over the next day, she decided to write about the incident for Dentistry IQ.
Not "Just" Collecting a Paycheck
The vast majority of dental hygienists worked hard to earn their certification, and continue to enhance their knowledge by taking advantage of related learning opportunities.
"Oh, you're just a hygienist"
Like any profession, some hygienists are content with their current routine, but there is room to grow in this role. Candace felt at several points that she was indeed “just” a hygienist, which prompted her to expand her career possibilities. Most recently, Candace chose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in allied dental health, allowing her to experience the nonclinical side of the profession, an aspect many patients do not realize exists.
Not "Just" Cleaning Teeth
The average client probably doesn’t realize how much their hygienist does for them. Is it the dentist who reviews their medical history with them and goes out of their way to help ease their anxiety? Does the dentist perform oral cancer screenings, sterilize the equipment, conduct fluoride treatments, take blood pressure, or do periodontal charting?
They can, but in the vast majority of cases, the hygienist performs these as well as other key aspects of a dental appointment.
As Candace also points out in the article, motivated hygienists can go on to become public health professionals, researchers, administrators, entrepreneurs…you name it!
Not every job will make you a millionaire or put your name up in lights. Sometimes the greatest satisfaction comes from knowing you are making an important contribution to a person’s health and well-being.
“Having been in the dental profession for the last 26 years, I can honestly say I love my profession...I know the varied abilities and diverse opportunities being a hygienist represents.”
The pride Candice expresses in that statement makes it clear she knows the value of what she does. And that’s just fine with her.
An inviting smile can open doors and our oral health is also important to our overall well-being. Most of us brush and floss regularly to ensure our teeth remain clean and free of cavities, though some people go the extra step of having their teeth whitened.
Such measures can be quite expensive and inconvenient, so wouldn’t it be wonderful to have another more cost-effective way of ensuring your dental health you could do at home? Not to mention one that may also result in fresher breath?
Oil pulling might be the way to accomplish this. While there is no definitive scientific evidence to say this method works, many people swear by it. Although oil pulling is a hot topic on the internet, it is actually a case of renewed interest in a cleaning method dating back several centuries.
How Does it Work?
Oil pulling is the practice of swishing raw coconut oil in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes each day. If you are interested in trying this, don’t worry—you won’t have to be splitting or milking coconuts. You can find bottled coconut oil in your grocery store. You can also use sesame or sunflower oil, though most people find the taste of coconut oil preferable.
Coconut oil is solid in form, but quickly liquefies as it mixes with your saliva. Take a generous tablespoon of the oil, place it in your mouth, and swish. You don’t need to swish as vigorously as you would with mouthwash as your jaw would become quite tired.
Do the oil pull first thing in the morning before you eat to get rid of the bacteria build-up in your mouth that occurred overnight. Once the time has elapsed, spit out the oil, and gargle for one minute with a mixture of lukewarm salt water. Then brush your teeth using a brush separate from one used normally. After brushing, rinse the brush thoroughly in warm water.
It is important to avoid swallowing. While the coconut oil will not harm you, swallowing means you will ingest all of the oral bacteria you want to purge from your body.
Detoxing Your Mouth
Those who swear by oil pulling say it is a great way to detox your mouth. Tooth decay results from a build-up of harmful bacteria in the mouth. These germs can lead to plaque, gingivitis, cavities, and even gum disease. Brushing your teeth regularly helps to eliminate such germs, but could oil pulling provide extra help for you in this area? Possibly, but there is no concrete proof.
Tooth Whitening and No More Bad Breath?
We all want whiter teeth. Could oil pulling provide a cheaper and easier way to attain this without having to go to the dentist or deal with those annoying whitening strips? Oil pulling enthusiasts enthusiastically claim yes, your teeth will look cleaner.
They also claim oil pulling will make your breath fresher, though this is not something that would last throughout the day.
Should you try oil pulling? Doing so will not cure cavities or correct any major dental issues, and it is no replacement for daily brushing and flossing. There is no scientific basis for the claims made on behalf of oil pulling and some dental professionals feel you can get comparable results using mouthwash and possibly even just water.
However, oil pulling certainly cannot harm you in any way and will not worsen your oral health.
Some people find a trip to the dentist quite stressful. This can stem from anxiety, an unpleasant experience with another practitioner, or even a dental accident they saw in a movie or television show. Let’s face it—the thought of a stranger having access to an intimate part of the body can spook some individuals.
Many practitioners already take steps to offer the most relaxing and professional atmosphere possible to allay such fears. However, a recent study by Deva Priya Appukuttan offers additional suggestions on how to help clients struggling with dental phobia and a subsequent failure to maintain oral health through regular appointments.
Here are three of the main points the author discussed.
Get to Know Your Clients
When a practice first accepts clients, they answer a series of questions relating to their medical history, insurance, etc. Appukuttan suggests it is also wise to consider a semi-structured interview. This calm, informal conversation would allow the practitioner to learn more about situations causing fear and/or anxiety. The dentist or staff member could unobtrusively guide the conversation using open-ended questions, rather than direct and potentially off-putting queries.
In addition to learning what situations may cause issues, the dentist might also determine such fears are part of a wider psychological issue and recommend the person to seek out a therapist. This mental health professional may work directly with the dentist to design an approach to help the patient overcome their worries.
In addition to the medical questionnaire mentioned above, practitioners can also offer a second one dedicated to anxiety issues patients sometimes experience. This would act as a confidential way for nervous clients to self-report using a series of questions and a scale mirroring the person’s anxiety. For example, when asked about having a cavity filled, a “1” could mean little worry and a “5” could show great worry.
The dentist could use this knowledge to categorize patients and approach them accordingly. Starting a dialogue in this fashion can help avoid unexpected issues during the moments of a procedure where such an interruption could be problematic.
The rapport dental professionals build with their clients is very important. A busy practice often reduces the amount of time a practitioner can spend with patients, which is unfortunate, as it can lead to an increase in anxiety for some.
Taking the time to listen, answer questions, and map out each step in the procedure can go a long way in reducing a client’s fear. This opportunity to make inquiries and spell out any concerns will increase the person’s respect for the practitioner. It is important to acknowledge it is not unusual to experience some anxiety before a procedure. Make eye contact, avoid any negative word choices, and emphasize you are here to help. All questions are valid; provide detailed responses demonstrating your interest and desire to do a thorough and professional job.
Maintain this dialogue while performing the procedure. Keep the client informed of what you are doing and what the next step will be. Also, ask whether they are experiencing any discomfort and reassure them they are doing well. Be honest and straightforward.