If you’ve worked in a dental office across any position – from a dental assistant, hygienist, or front office staff member – you’ve likely heard some eye-brow raising comments and stories from dental patients. Patients hold these beliefs about the dentist or general oral health from picking up these antidotes from family, friends, or the internet. These myths are important to dispel and should be proof to always educate the patient to reduce their fears and worries.
Top 10 Myths from the Dental Chair
- “I have soft teeth.”
- “Having children reduced my calcium, causing me to have poor dental health.”
- “Novocaine is dangerous.”
- “Fluoride is dangerous and poisonous.”
- “Well water doesn’t contain fluoride.”
- “My tooth roots were wrapped around my jaw bone.”
- “The metal (from a crown) rusted in my mouth.”
- “The doctor put his knee on my chest to yank out my tooth.”
- “Root canals cause cancer.”
- Patients claim they can feel pain after anesthetic has been administered (enough to knock out a horse).
Most of these myths are rooted in misinformation from non-expert sources. From changes in diet and dental hygiene habits (loss of calcium from mothers) to overexaggerating effects of common dental procedures (fluoride treatment and root canals), patient’s imaginations can take different forms – often due to the position they’re put in during an appointment. It’s up to you to educate and remove fear to create more confident patients.
Creating Confident Dental Patients – Educate and Remove Fear
Dental treatments and procedures often cause fear in patients. They are placed in a vulnerable position, both physically and mentally – placed horizontal in the dental chair with limited vision of what the doctor is doing, and often limited understanding of the work being performed. Dental staff should inform patients of the procedure in a way that doesn’t scare them! Try your best to explain in laymen terms (i.e. explain that a deep teeth cleaning is for treatment of gum disease). Patients absorb what they hear through their own filter of fear. Using real-time photos is a perfect strategy to help communicate. For example, intra oral cameras help because you can walk through photographic evidence and help calm their anxiety. Seeing hundreds of patients over a month can sometimes desensitize dental staff, but always keep the patient top-of-mind to ease fear and create a more comfortable environment.