Caring for the Fearful Patient


Are you hiding a frightened facade you don't want others to see?

Do your fears and emotions prevent you from caring for your dental health?

Do you desperately want to change that and know what it is like to be happy in a dental environment?

You can lose your fears and anxieties, enjoy your dental visits and Dr. Prus will show you how. He has been trained in medical/dental hypnosis and through those studies he has learned to understand the difficult emotions that fearful patients present and how to help patients overcome them. He knows the root cause of your fears and anxieties and he has the solution.

Most phobic/fearful patients have been 'abused' by their dentists at some point. Personally we have heard many stories from patients at CDE explaining where their dental fears grew from. In most cases it is a very sad story; sometimes it is horrific. In spite of such experiences it is almost always possible to rid your life of these burdensome emotional fears.

So many patients come to CDE overburdened with fears they have carried for years. WE LOVE THOSE PATIENTS AT CDE. The reason is we understand how you feel and have the key to unlock the door that allows you to pass through to a world of little or no dental anxiety. We will support you and allow you to gain a voice in what we do. Dental treatment is a vulnerable experience for almost all patients. All patients know the dental drill has a special capacity to cause pain and they can't control it, so they sit in the chair with some level of anxiety. What Dr. Prus has learned is to ask for your permission to do a procedure, right at the start. Throughout the procedure he will repeat his request, "How are you doing? Is everything OK?" He does that precisely to let the patient know they have a say in any procedure. His goal is to create a bond of trust between himself and each patient and within the patient themselves. In time they start to believe in themselves and the fears slowly melt away. For phobic patients it is a life changing experience.  

Listen to what he recently said in a local regional magazine. Then call CDE and change your life.

The following is an article from Hudson Valley Magazine's 'Ask The Experts' online column (Edited and rephrased in part to accommodate this website).


Good News for the Fearful Dental Patient

Disliking a dental experience can be commonplace but is accommodated by most patients to some degree. Just another part of life we endure. Extreme dental fears and phobias are entirely different.

What is dental fear (phobia)? How does it differ from ‘disliking’ a dental experience?

DISLIKE: Since most dental treatment involves an anesthetic injection, it is fair to say most patients don’t look forward to the ‘shot’ except, perhaps, as a mechanism to avoid something worse. That is a typical example of disliking a dental event. It can happen at many levels and we teach ourselves to deal with it best as we can. This works for most patients.

FEARS AND PHOBIAS: Dislike, however, does not come close to the emotional turmoil that highly fearful people have at the mere thought of being at a dental office. For those individuals who experience it, it is paralyzing. They impulsively avoid all things dental. As a result, their dental health suffers, often greatly. That does not need to happen.

Why are such patients so paralyzed at the thought of going to the dentist?

The Source of Dental Fear

Over time everyone will forget many of the details of an unpleasant event, but not as easily how they felt about it. Fear is an emotional reaction and it wins over logic for fearful dental patients. They fear things which they feel (emotions), not know (logic), can harm them in some way and that they don’t have control over. Experience has shown this fact drives their emotional reaction and they then relive their emotional event as they perceive it, and they fear it can happen again. For fearful patients, I have found a traumatic event was almost always accompanied by their inability to influence it. The lack of having any say or influence in the event during their dental experience is the primary cause of their dental fear. It was not just the pain or suffering. Emotional trauma is the result.

What are the Ways to Counter Dental Phobia?

1. While he most common way in today’s dentistry is to use sedation dentistry, it may not be the most beneficial. It can allow a person to receive all the needed dental care without the challenge of emotional stresses. There are several options:

  • Nitrous Oxide, called ‘laughing gas’, for the obvious reasons
  • IV sedation which uses an intravenous injection of any of several sedative solutions
  • Combinations of both

The choice of which approach is best is determined by the training of the doctor and the requirements of the procedure. Even patients without phobias can benefit from these approaches when a procedure is expected to be difficult, such as a deep, bone extraction or any extensive surgery. It removes the possibility of developing a fear. (As you will see Dr. Prus has not needed to use nitrous oxide in his career for anxiety control, and he refers patients to appropriate specialists when sedation is appropriate.)

The phobic patient will, however, still retain their fears after the procedure with sedation. Their only recourse is to continue with the sedative approach for most dental care. There are always costs and potential medical problems with any form of sedation and they must always be considered and properly explained to a patient.

2. The second choice involves learning how to overcome and move past your fears. It involves patient-dentist teamwork and it is not as difficult as it may seem. Here is how it is done.

There are three important patient-doctor interactions that must be developed to make it work:

a. The most important factor in overcoming your dental fears is to gain a sense of control over your environment. The dentist’s job is to support that. (That is what Dr. Prus will do with you.) Tell them what you want and do not want. Speak your mind. (Dr. Prus will carefully help you through that self-rewarding process.)

b. The second most important factor is to let the dental team know and understand what caused your fear (your trigger point) and tell them to avoid it if at all possible. (When you first come to CDE, your dental health questionnaire will ask you about all your fears. When we know the source of your fears, we will know how to minimize its effect on your emotions.)

c. The third vital factor is to develop a trusting relationship between you and your doctor through repetitive successes so you can work together better. This is the cornerstone of your success. This is an extension of (a).(Dr. Prus and his team of understanding assistants and office staff knows this does not happen immediately, but it will happen, because they want it to.)

How does a dental patient gain control over their environment and bypass their fears?

When visiting a dental office there are several key steps you should be mindful of. These steps, when supported by your dentist, create your sense of control and you want to focus on them:

1. Be Informed as to what dental treatment they are going to do. If you are uncertain, ask for a clarification. Non-dental examples work well. Dentistry is often confusing. (Dr. Prus will slowly and carefully explain what he is doing in a language that is easier to understand than dentalspeak. He uses metaphors and comparisons to help you fully appreciate how he is helping you help yourself.)

2. Don’t allow treatment until you give permission to do it. Be engaged in the decision making process. This will help you understand and accept the process and put you more in control of them. If you express resistance, the dentist should reduce his/her expectations and try for a smaller accomplishment. Only proceed if you give permission. (All through the treatment process Dr. Prus will communicate with you to make sure you are comfortable and ready to continue.)

3. In the midst of the approved procedure, be willing to pause, reaffirm the process and repeat the approval to continue. This reinforces your involvement in having a say in your dental experience and starts to lessen the fears you have held for years. When you give approval all along you will more easily accept the consequences.  That changes your reaction from emotional to logical. (Fear rarely exists unless we perceive we cannot control our environment. We cannot make a decision if we do not have a choice and that is what drives fear into a dental environment. That will not happen at CDE.)

4. Applaud your positive results however minimal. Speak it out. This builds trust, not just between you and the doctor but within yourself by reaffirming that you can handle it. (It is very critical to change your own perception of yourself. It is easier to criticize your inabilities than it is to praise your accomplishments but it must be done to reaffirm your success.)

Over time I have found most phobic and anxious patients learn to move past their fears with proper guidance and, as a result, they approach the dental environment with greater appeal, self-confidence and even enthusiasm. What they lived and relived for years is gone. (This is the truth behind Dr. Prus' enthusiastic acceptance of fearful patients in his practice. He knows he will succeed in removing your fears.)




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