We understand how going to the dentist can be a frightening affair. Over the seventeen years we have been practicing we have seen every form of anxious patient walk through our door. The reasons for the anxiety can my many, but ignoring it nearly always results in the same situation—a vicious cycle of fear and avoidance which can lead to serious dental disease and a lifetime of discomfort.
We deal with everyone on a case-by-case basis. Some may need simply time. Time to familiarise themselves with the procedures, time to feel confident in the dentist treating them, time to step up from sitting in the chair with having no treatment done to seeing their very first needle unsheathed.
Others may need only information. Fear comes from the unknown, after all. Many a customer has found their fear abating when we slowly explain in clear and concise terms everything that is wrong and everything that needs to be done. We show them the steps involved, we use videos and pictures, and leaflets to demystify dentistry. Slowly over time, and with some handholding, most, if not all, of our customers manage to overcome their nervousness. I have always been amazed at how resourceful nervous patients become, how quick the nerves disappear once the tiniest step to confronting it is taken. Some of my best and most dedicated attendees over the years have been those people who entered our clinic the most nervous.
What most non-attenders fail to realise is that techniques and procedures have moved on in dentistry since they were young. Most procedures are now relatively painless, most anecdotal stories we hear are the outliers, the exceptional complications, normally the result of bad luck. Our staff are trained in handling anxious customers sympathetically throughout your visit. We can use air abrasion in some situations to remove decay, negating the need for any drilling. Our modern day instruments are now better engineered than before, allowing previously difficult extractions to be performed with predictable ease. We have topical gels that numb the gums first, and our practitioners are adept at administering pain-free anesthetic.
In short, whatever the reason for your nervousness or fear, come in and have a chat with us. We have a consultation room separate to the main clinic where we can discuss your dental needs and fears without even seeing the inside of our surgery. It is a safe haven within our clinic, and once we get to know you, and you us, we can begin to break down the cycle together.
For those who cannot overcome their anxieties, do not despair! There are alternatives. Medicines we can prescribe such as anxiolytics that are normally taken the morning of their treatment. These medicines can calm you down enough to break the hold anxiety and fear has, enough to allow you to sit in the chair. If these do not work there is the option of inhalation and intravenous sedation or even a referral for general anaesthetic. But in all the years we have been treating nervous patients, the number of times we have referred a patient for GA is minimal. Then there is exposure therapy and cognitive behavioural treatment. These are provided by other healthcare professionals, but we can advise you on how to access these in conjunction with our treatment plans.
Your fear may seem insurmountable to you right now, but rest assured, we have all the experience and know-how to help even the most difficult of cases. So, why not take the first step? Pick up the phone and call us on 01-2859067 or pop in for a chat. We would be delighted to help you overcome this beast and break that vicious cycle.
Dr Gerald O’Connor is the principal dentist and owner of Killiney Dental. Dr O’Connor graduated with an honours dental degree from University College Cork in 1998. He has since worked as a general dental surgeon in the UK and Ireland and has over 20 years experience in the dental field, with a particular interest in cosmetic and restorative dentistry. Dr O’Connor is an active member of the Irish Dental Association, sitting on its Quality Patient Safety Committee, and is a Irish Dental Council registered dentist.