How I Help My Patients With Dental Fears

Dr. Bill Gilbert Explains How He Helps Patients Feel More Comfortable.

Fearful about visiting the dentist? You’re not alone. 1/3 of us suffer from dental fears and anxiety. That’s why Dr. Gilbert makes sure to provide the extra comfort and communication for every patient, so that they have as pleasant an experience as possible when they see us. It’s a big reason why many our once fearful patients now look forward to ‘visiting the dentist’.

There are 3 things that patients with dental fears rely on from Dr. Gilbert. “All the patients that I treat in my office, I can promise you that your experience will always be pain free, we won’t judge you, and we’ll always listen,” says Dr. Gilbert.

Here’s a little Q & A with Dr. Gilbert regarding his practice’s approach to offering patients  a safe, relaxing and pain-free dental experience.

What do you think the top fears patient have when they come to the dentist?
Definitely a fear of needles, number one. Number two, usually sounds and number three, being hurt.

How do you calm your patients when they have that kind of anxiety?
The first thing that I reassure patients is that in my chair, they will never be hurt. And I’m very serious about that. They will always have the control to raise a hand. And when they do, we will get them more numb. And we won’t work on them until they’re completely numb.

What kind of feedback have you heard about from patients who have had anxiety?
When patients have anxiety, it’s always that somebody has violated trust. And that they have felt as if somebody hasn’t listened to them, so I let them know that they’ll never leave my office, feeling violated, being mistrustful. And I sort of promised them that they’re going to leave with expectations on my part being exceeded. I want them to feel as if I’ve expected I’ve exceeded their expectations. And I’d like to know that they actually can muster a smile when they leave to tell me that it was actually not such a bad experience.

So what would you tell patients who are nervous and don’t want to come in?
I think a lot of patients are embarrassed about how they’re going to be judged. And so there is no judgment in my office. And I think the fact that they’re willing to take that first step and come into the offices is a huge, huge thing. I think just knowing that it’s a safe place, that there are caring people here that absolutely only want the best for them.

Dental Therapy Dog Chance Calms Patients with FearsWhat’s your team like? And how does that help the patients?
I have a great team. And they’re very supportive my mission to help those patients that haven’t really been able to find a home for their fears. And we’re that place where a lot of people end up because nobody else has shown the compassion that we have. Starting with Cece, when you call, you’re going to get a very real person on the phone. She’ll get you set up for that first appointment, and she’s the one that you’ll see in the treatment room who brings you back. Very compassionate and kind. And Tricia is the hygienist who will clean your teeth, and in a very gentle way. So that’s the team, not to forget Chance, our therapy dog. It’s a small group, and we’re all passionate about what we do.

How does Chance help your patients?
He has a sort of a second sense for when people are afraid and when it’s appropriate for him to be in the room. We generally ask patients if they want him to come in. If somebody is fearful about a shot, or if there’s a time where they just need a break, and they want a head on their lap, or they want to be able to pet Chance, he sort of has that second nature intuition. of when do appear in the room.

What about your environment? I see a beautiful backdrop. What makes it relaxing for your patients?
It’s like a Arboretum out there. I spent a lot of time planting things 20 years ago, and now they’ve grown up into these big trees and bushes. People sit in the chair and they’re immediately relaxed. They’ve kind of never seen that in a dental office. Big, wide open rooms. It’s a friendly, warm environment for for people, and I think it’s a little different. The combination of seeing a dog when they come in the office, and then the big windows looking out into a garden setting is very relaxing.

What are some other ways you help relax your patients, or ease their anxiety?
We have the ability to use nitric oxide or laughing gas. That’s a pretty simple way to relax somebody, and I tell people it’s a lot like having a glass of wine. And then the minute we take them off the nitric oxide, they can drive a car within, you know, 10 or 15 minutes. If that doesn’t seem to be enough, we can always prescribe an oral medication sedative that will relax them. So a combination of that and or the nitrous oxide, with a really gentle chairside demeanor helps. I think I’m particularly careful with my injections, and I take my time to warm the anesthetic, I take my time to put plenty of topical anesthetic on the tissue. I think right there if you can win a patient over by giving them a painless injection, the rest of the procedure is usually smooth sailing.

If you suffer from dental fears or anxiety, you can rely on us for a more comforting, and pain-free dental experience. And when you schedule a consultation with us, please let us know about your any dental related fears or anxiety you might have. We’re here for you – just call us at (425) 957-4700 or request an appointment online!