Empathy – A Valuable Dental Quality
Dentist:Patient understanding – the route to essential oral care in Epsom.
‘Empathy’ is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘the ability to understand and share the feelings of others’. Some might argue that this is less common in the age of social media, but it still has an important role to play in our lives, and certainly within the dental practice environment.
The importance of good oral care should not be underestimated, with not only our teeth at stake, but as many studies are now indicating, our general health too. Although dental care is widely available, it is not taken up by everybody and a large factor contributing to this is patient anxiety.
Helping nervous patients
There are a number of ways that the Clock Tower Dental Clinic team can help patients who are afraid of their practice visits. We have spent a lot of time (and money) on ensuring that our practice is as welcoming and relaxing as it can be. This helps those with a moderate tendency towards anxiety, though it may just be a first step for others.
Technology has a role to play too. For example, The Wand and the INJEX systems, allow us to offer a more patient friendly anaesthetic procedure than the traditional dental needle. This is a common anxiety and so really helps many patients to overcome their fears and have treatment when needed.
We also offer dedicated support services to patients who need it because of their dental phobias. For those for whom this is a real challenge, we also offers sedation which enables patients to receive treatment with much lower levels of anxiety. You will need to bring a responsible adult with you when you have sedation to ensure that you are able to get home safely.
Our friendly (and empathetic) dental team
Nervous patients especially may be terrified by the dentist and even the sights and smells of the clinical environment can trigger these reactions which can be quite extreme in some cases.
One of the key requirements of a good dentist (as well as their skills, naturally) is to be able to empathise with the patient. Politeness and friendliness are important but are not enough on their own. To truly help patients receive treatment, we need to be able to feel and understand how they feel.
For the patient, this may be their first filling, or perhaps their previous one was unpleasant for them for some reason. We do our best to put ourselves in the patient’s shoes so that we can understand the way that they are feeling as best as we possibly can. Where we understand how the patient feels about their experience, it is easier to address their immediate concerns. If they show signs of anxiety when we are about to provide the local anaesthetic, rather than just think ‘they’ll be fine’, we might offer one of the alternatives mentioned earlier. Showing this kind of understanding hopefully then helps to build mutual trust.
Some nervous patients acknowledge the need to receive treatment and simply want to get it over with as quickly as they can. To have a dentist then start to sort paperwork and talk to his assistant can be very frustrating. Whilst we acknowledge that some of this may be necessary, our Epsom dentists will try to minimise this by doing as much preparatory work beforehand as possible, so that we can focus directly and immediately on the patient.
It is important not only to be aware of a patient’s dental anxieties but of the efforts that they may have made simply to be able to attend their appointment that day. As a dentist, it can be all too easy to see one patient after another without thinking too much about this. For some patients, however, it may have been a struggle to get time from work, or may have even lost money because of it. Others may have had to find childcare or deal with disability issues in order to simply attend.
Consequently it is important then that we value every single one of our patients and you can be sure that we do just that. We try to ensure that all patients are treated courteously and in a friendly manner. We also ensure that they have sufficient knowledge of any dental problem they have in order to be able to make an informed choice about the treatments offered. We will discuss all the available treatment options and make any recommendations based on what we believe provides the best outcome.
If you would like to see one of our friendly dentists, you can arrange a consultation by booking an appointment at the Clock Tower Dental Practice on 01372 720136.