How to Explain a Complicated Dental Procedure to a Nervous Patient

Written by

Going to a dentist is, to many, a dreaded experience that they try to avoid as long as possible, even at the cost of suffering numbing pain. Odontophobia is a prevalent condition and it's very easy to jump on the “dentists are scary” bandwagon. Getting out of it is usually a little more difficult, especially if you are constantly hearing stories of “butcher dentists” and such.

In order to do his job with success, a dentist will need the cooperation of his patients. He can't just put people to sleep the moment they waltz into his office and start drilling and pulling. He has to use tact and he has to calmly explain what he intends to do with the patient's teeth. Of course, when a nervous patient walks into the dentist's office (most likely kicking and screaming), explaining the dental procedure proves to be a little more complicated. However, not impossible. Here is how you can talk with your edgy patients about dental procedures.

Explaining the Fillings

Most people sitting in the dentist's chair are there because of cavities. This is probably the most simple procedure in dentistry and most dentists have done it a billion times by now. Still, many people, when they see a needle used for numbing the mouth before they can administer a filling, start to have “second thoughts” and remember “prior engagements”. If you don't want your patent to jump out of his chair when he sees a needle in your hand, talk to him and calmly, but in a firm voice, explain what you are doing next. For instance, you could say something along the lines of “this will help you offset the pain”. Also, a lot of people feel the need for a distraction, so if they feel more relaxed listening to music on an iPod while you work, let them.

Explaining Tooth Extractions

extractions are the most feared dental procedure of all. Most good dentists try everything in their power to heal the tooth and only pull it out as the last resort and if it threatens other teeth. The worst first words you can utter as a dentist is “we'll have to extract this”. Try treating the tooth for a few days, at least, and only when you see that it doesn't work, start preparing the patient for the tooth extraction. This is where patients are won or lost forever, so give your patient a day or two to mentally prepare for the procedure. Once the patient finally arrives in his chair, having an assistant with you can work wonders for soothing him or her.

Finally, don't forget to talk while you work with your patient. If you show that you are relaxed, the patient is likely to be more composed as well. If you know of a good joke or an anecdote, tell them to the patient.