How to get back to mainstream dentistry

All dentists and medics are committed to the Hypocratic Oath ‘Do no further harm’, and in general, injury caused by your surgeon not intentional. 

When these complications happen to the patient, the patient / clinician relationship is put under severe strain. Often the patient and dentist have a good relationship before hand and this is compromised when complications arise. Often surgery is performed by a different person to your dentist but he/she has come recommended to you and trust in them will also be destroyed if complications occur and they are not managed appropriately.

The resultant stress and guilt experienced by the clinician, having caused problems and their inability to manage conflict/difficult situations, may lead to avoidance on the part of dentist trying also not to accept blame because of legal implications (though this should not be the case!). The clinician MUST have prepared their patient for the chosen treatment and appropriately consent them. The increased awareness via research, publications increased talk in media should improve dentists and patients knowledge. New developments including modified assessment (improved imaging technology CBCT) and surgical methods are being developed in order to minimise risk of nerve injury.

Most importantly clinicians / Dentists have to also learn to say ‘sorry’ to their patient, surgery is not risk free, we have to learn the art of communication.

After the injury

  • The patient often experiences increased anxiety at the prospect of seeing any dental professional.

  • Having to build up a new relationship and develop communication with a new GDP is overwhelming 

  • It is important NOT to avoid receiving routine dentistry due to fear and anxiety as this may escalate a minor dental problem, like a small cavity into a major dental problem requiring- Root Canal Treatment/ extraction, which increases the risk and also your fear and anxiety. 

  • All patients need regular PREVENTATIVE dentistry, early detection of decay/gum disease. Diet advice, oral hygiene advice and home care instructions.

  • There are many ways to manage a fearful patient, and the basis is good communication, plenty of time in your appointment with the addition of oral sedation/IV sedation, hypnotherapy where needed.

 Many nerve injury patients ask themselves ‘have I done everything I can, to help myself’ regarding their pain management and oral care. If you don’t take control of this question you are likely to continue feeling the victim, and sadly if your nerve injury is coupled with fear and anxiety relating to all dental work, your avoidance can result in further neglect of your oral health!

Aim for the ideal of rebuilding a relationship of trust with your new or old GDP

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