21st Nov 2012
Professor Tim Newton is literally one of a kind – he is the UK’s only Professor of Psychology as applied to dentistry, and much of his working life revolves around researching and understanding anxiety in dental patients. He leads the Kings Health Psychology service in London which was set up in 2008 to help adults with dental anxiety.
I suspect he is a busy man – with 12% of adults in the UK reporting extreme dental anxiety, and 28% being extremely anxious about dental injections ( Adult Dental Health Survey 2009 ), he has plenty to keep himself occupied!
In an interview in the latest edition of the British Dental Journal (1), Professor Newton lists his 5 top tips for dealing with anxious patients. One of these tips is to consider how to make the patient’s journey through the practice less anxiety provoking – ( for example, seeing patients on time, making patients aware that a close friend or relative is welcome to accompany them). There are many strategies that can be used to improve the patient journey. In my own personal experience, the one strategy I find that works above all others is giving patients sufficient time – time for patients to explain their anxieties, past experiences and current concerns about their dental health. Also time for myself and my staff to listen and absorb those anxieties, and to work out a strategy for supporting the patient through their treatment.
The Roman philosopher Seneca said: Time heals what reason cannot – how true this is for so many anxious dental patients. He could have been referring to many of the patients we see here at No Fear Dentists, who find that time spent with an understanding and sympathetic team can be the best therapy of all.
(1) BDJ – Volume 213, No 8, Oct 27th 2012