As with all trades, there is more to the job than simply having the right qualifications. As you would expect, in the world of dentistry, being fully qualified and having up to date skills are an essential part of the job; you would really expect no less from someone who is performing surgery in your mouth. So, let’s leave the qualifications aside and look at what else makes a great dentist.
A lot of us will suffer with our nerves before going to the dentist and there are ways and means of controlling this from simple meditation to conscious sedation during a procedure. However, spare a thought for a moment or two for the dentist who has to put up with our fears, not just once a day but probably thirty or so times a day and for five days a week over the whole year. Whilst I can’t speak for everyone, I know that when I am nervous I tend to babble and my anxieties are pretty obvious. So, for me, I think my number one requirement from a dentist is patience. If you are nervous, you don’t want to be shouted at by your dentist do you; that would certainly not settle the nerves.
It always helps when you are nervous if the dentist has a calm and relaxed manner; not in an unprofessional ‘jokey’ way but someone who has the air of authority and obviously knows what he is doing and even if the procedure he is about to perform is extensive and invasive, you want him to be able to calmly re-assure you that it will be fine and that you won’t feel any pain. Whilst this may not entirely ease your fear, it will certainly help to reduce it.
A dentist needs to be able to focus on his patient and shouldn’t be distracted during a procedure. It can be unnerving to have your mouth propped wide open whilst he talks to the secretary who has just walked in. A good dentist would wave them away and get on with the job in hand i.e. you!
Although it is beneficial for a dentist to be calm and relaxed, you do want him to be professional and an unshaven scruffy dentist who has part of his breakfast on his gown is probably not going to inspire confidence in his patient. Whilst, in the UK, we are more relaxed about formality than we used to be, it is still important to have an air of calm authority and making sure that you are smart and cleanly clothed will certainly help with this.
Phil Keller changed his dentist a number of times due to his phobia before finally settling on a dental practice in Burton where he feels at least a little easier than most that he has attended.