Dental Fear and Anxiety

I was the speaker at study group for dentists recently.
The aim of the evening was to give the dentists tangible tools they could use with their patients and to explain what further change I could achieve by working with patients with more intense anxiety.
1 in 3 adults in the UK have a moderate to severe dental anxiety, this fear is rooted in as many causes as patients within some broad categories discussed in the session.
The fallout affects patients, dentists and their staff as well as family and friends as people can retreat socially through the shame of having 'bad teeth' or are not able to function normally due to persistent pain.
The emotional state of a patient has an impact on their visit - stress can cause a chain reaction!
Treatment is more likely to go well if the dentist and dental nurse as well as the patient are calm, and there are many ways that a visit to the dentist can be easier for everyone, with no contra-indications and without the need for sedation.

Rapport with the patients is vitally important:

  • the tone and nature of written correspondence
  • the manner and communication style of the receptionist on the phone and in person
  • the physical environment of the reception, waiting area and surgery (attention should be paid to all senses not just the visual, but also auditory, kinaesthetic and olfactory)
  • the communication style of the dentist with the patient and the dental nurse (a nervous patient doesn't want to hear a dentist being unclear over a which materials or instruments to use in a procedure!)

Specific use of language enables understanding while communication style as a whole is important in this environment as words themselves will contribute to only 7% of meaning: attention must be paid to tonality and physiology.

Therapists can help a dental practice in this process:

  • by working with the team at a dental practice in skills of rapport- showing how a patient can be led to a more relaxed state
  • by teaching the team about communication styles
  • training staff in techniques of guided imagery
  • training staff in simple but powerful and effective techniques of NLP and EFT to work with their patients
  • working with a practice to develop strategies for specific patients
  • working with patients immediatly prior to, and during, treatment

Therapists can help dental patients by

  • working with dental patients with more severe anxiety or phobia away from the dental practice and build towards coming to the practice
  • working with patients who have persistent and chronic pain for which no physiological cause can be found
  • relieve negative emotions associated with the state of their teeth or signifcant emotional events that preceeded the dental condition.

Phobias are an overwhelming and unwarranted fear of an event or situation. They are so easily and quickly resolved using NLP and EFT techniques that no-one should suffer from phobias of any kind any more!

Dental phobia is no different, visiting a dentist should be seen as an ordinary appointment: a routine, commonplace event. What has happened in our society is that visits to dentists tend to have a huge amount of emtion attached to them which is neither warranted or helpful.


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