The fear or incapability of accepting routine dental care affects about 33.3 per cent of the UK’s adult population. It’s been estimated that 10% of this population are phobic of dentistry. They either avoid it completely or are distressed if they decide to attend a dentist. Consequently, significant deterioration in their dental health is often reported. Dental fear is the greatest difficulty that dentists face when it comes to managing their patients.
A clinical psychologist provides effective psychological treatment for helping patients who are anxious to frequently accept routine dental care and with less distress. Also, psychologists have an important role in the psychological impact assessment of oral disfigurement plus its treatment and dental implant surgery.
Recent guidelines support psychological interventions need in dentistry as well as the significance of providing the needed psychological guidance plus expertise in terms of clinical decision-making and treatment planning (British Psychological Society, 1996; General Dental Council, 1990).
The NICE dental recall guidance published in 2004 looked at the potential of patients and dental team to maintain or improve the patients’ quality of life as well as reduce morbidity that is associated with the dental and oral disease.
Psychological Interventions Effectiveness
A Cochrane systematic review of psychotherapy (the use of psychological methods) for dental anxiety assessed psychological interventions’ effectiveness in dental anxiety treatment. Behavioural plus cognitive behavioural therapies showed a positive outcome regarding greater attendances at the dental appointment in the future compared to the control groups.
There’s increasing evidence for the eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) effectiveness in dental anxiety treatment, and considering the guidelines by NICE for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder, EMDR should definitely be considered for people present with prior traumatic experiences in a dental setting.
Dentist-Patient Relationship Psychological Perspective
The psychodynamic approach regards dental health care as dentists working with patients, and in turn, the patients are capable of accepting the treatment that the dentist is offering and providing. Equality in that interaction is a vital feature.
Equality Importance in the Dentist-Patient Relationship
In the dentist-patient relationship, equality encourages an effective dental practice. Differing opinions of dental care that patients have and dental professional play a part in the inequalities between them. For instance, dentists always think of any dental symptom in physical terms, whereas patients consider the symptoms they are experiencing in their own social and psychological context. Usually, such differences result in disappointing treatment outcomes plus unachievable goals.
How to Bridge the Gap Between the Patient and Dentist
Patient education plus good communication by dentists is one important way of bridging the gap between patient and dentist, which leads to equality among participants. The education has to be delivered at diagnosis time, which enables the patient to clearly understand the reason for choosing a certain treatment.
If available, treatment alternatives should be discussed. Also, the patient has to be advised about the disadvantages and advantages of all the alternatives, consequences, costs as well as the risks of non-treatment. If dental professionals choose to implement those patient management strategies, then reduced patient anxiety concerning dental procedures, and improvements in patient attendance as well as compliance with treatment being offered, have been reported.
Typically, the dentist-patient relationship involves complicated psychological issues. Thus, a continuous research in behavioural dentistry will yield better strategies for patient management, which in turn, will enhance dental practice.