Did you know that according to research, more than 60 percent of dental patients fear the dentist to some degree? Some studies have even suggested this number to be as high as 75 percent. The new academic year will bring lots of individuals for their check-ups again, providing a great opportunity to work towards decreasing any fears they might have.
As a worker in a dental clinic, one can be considered to be in the prime position of recognizing and making the life of those suffering from the fear of dentist easier. By changing negative associations that have once been formed into positive ones, a patient can elude the vicious cycle that could start as a result of skipping an appointment because of the fear of dentist. That is, the bar of returning to the dental clinic after missed appointments is a lot higher because patients might fear possible complications and experience shame from their decreasing oral health (1). By taking care of any fears that patients might have towards dentists not only can we prevent oral health problems from accumulating, but we can also prevent other health problems that are strongly linked to oral health. The question then is: How can we recognize those who are afraid of the dentist?
A recent study (2) suggests that a screening questionnaire, such as MDA (Modified Dental Anxiety Scale), is a great place to start. Using a questionnaire to screen for the fear is not only a great way to recognize it, but according to the study it dramatically decreased the fear of those patients as well. In addition, patients who had the chance to talk about the questionnaire results together with the dentist had a further decrease in their fears. This time- and cost-efficient procedure with promising results might very well be something worth to consider at your clinic, too. Another new study (3) has also discovered that virtual relaxation is a very promising way to decrease fears of patients. By stimulating a relaxing environment with a matching soundscape through virtual reality glasses for 1-3 minutes before a dental appointment, the fear of some patients could be reduced as much as by 50 percent. Another simple, yet efficient way to make patients feel more comfortable at dental clinics.
Next to the new technological advances that make one feel more comfortable before the appointment, another important step in the process of creating positive associations in dental patients to decrease their fears is by focusing on the dental experience itself – And this all starts with a comfortable chair and efficient handling of the patients. At Finndent, we want to help you towards a fear-free dental clinic through a holistic approach to dental work: Creating a unit that helps to achieve maximum efficiency and suits your needs and preferences as a dentist, with a design that creates a balanced atmosphere within the clinic, and the chair comfort that helps each patient relax as well as possible. Don’t hesitate to contact us to talk about the unit that your dental clinic requires.
1) Nissinen, A., (2020). Pelon kanssa pärjää. https://www.hammaslaakarilehti.fi/fi/uutinen/pelon-kanssa-parjaa
2) Liinavuori, A., Tolvanen, M., Pohjola, V., Lahti, S. (2019). Longitudinal interrelationships between dental fear and dental attendance among adult Finns in 2000-2011.
3) Höglund, M., Bågesund, M., Shahnavaz, S., Wårdh, I. (2019). Evaluation of the ability of dental clinicians to rate dental anxiety.