Emotional Dentistry

Emotional Dentistry

We cannot stress enough the importance of a beautiful and healthy smile in one's life. Dentistry is a very challenging yet rewarding profession where we, the dentists, are the architects of our patient's smiles. A good smile is associated with a sense of well-being and invariably boosts the person's confidence. “Aesthetic” or “Cosmetic” dentistry is a specialty of dentistry with the sole purpose of giving patients a pleasing and beautiful smile. When we talk about changing a person’s smile and the way they look, we automatically connect with his emotions. Hence a dentist needs to understand and connect with his patient’s emotions.

Emotional dentistry is all about acquiring the necessary skills and developing psychological knowledge to build trustworthy, robust relationships with patients. This concept of dynamic dentistry stems from the idea of having a high emotional intelligence among dentists. From the moment the patients walk into the dental clinic, they constantly send us emotional signals, most of which are anxiety and fear. As dentists, we should respond to those signals intelligently to build a deep, mutually rewarding relationship with our patients. Emotional Intelligence is a set of skills that the dentist needs to develop a feeling of trust and optimism in patients. A good dentist should possess a few essential skills: empathy, stress tolerance, optimism, assertiveness, and self-regard.

The lockdown situation due to COVID-19 infection worldwide has affected many dentists physically, mentally, and economically in every aspect of their life. A wave of stress, depression, and psychological breakdown is prevalent among dental professionals with the closure of dental practice and no clarity in the future about a resumption of work. Emotions such as fear and anxiety may be with the distressing reports on the COVID-19 pandemic by electronic, social, and print media. Mild anxiety is natural and encourages guarding and defensive behaviour. Some people with persistent anxiety may dread and are more likely to make irrational decisions and show irrational behaviour. It is not easy for the patients to accept specific treatment modalities, which may not be comfortable in its process, but only the results are pleasing. It requires effectively influencing the patients, which may come only from a deep, meaningful relationship.

How are emotions connected with dentistry?

Dentistry today has changed a lot. It is not just restoring cavities, replacing missing teeth or extractions, but dentistry has evolved into modern dentistry dealing with aesthetics and emotions. It is no secret that the right drug can cure the disease. Emotional dentistry, in other terms, can also be called aesthetic dentistry. A patient with pleasing aesthetics will automatically drive out their emotions, such as inferiority, stress, and depression. Aesthetics are one of the most impactful tools to help humans make themselves beautiful and confident. Aesthetics play a significant role in creating a peaceful environment for individuals.

Correct and attentive personal communication increases the feeling of confidence and facilitates the acceptance of dental treatments. On the other hand, emotional dentistry helps to deal with complicated situations in the office, as in cases where patients who refuse to perform the necessary procedures suffer from odontophobia or reveal aggressive tendencies. Emotional intelligence and its use in dentistry need previous self-awareness to identify areas for improvement in both personal and professional dimensions.

Active listening

Necessary to establish a productive dialogue; this technique is based on the ability to make your interlocutor see that you are listening carefully without judging your words. Both diagnosis and therapy acceptance will have a far higher probability of success. The patient will feel free to communicate his problem and convey all his doubts thanks to active listening.

Intrapersonal Skills

Individuals can grow as a result of these personal and professional qualities. Working on self-motivation, accountability, and assertiveness will enable better communication between professionals and their patients. The dentist must learn to effectively manage his emotions, such as stress or particular problems, so that the patient feels more confident, which will positively impact his visit to the office.

Interpersonal Skills

Mainly people intervene and work in a dental clinic, each with a different personality. Concentrating on social skills while keeping the notion of emotional dentistry in mind to maintain a healthy relationship with the team and patients is essential. Empathy, proactivity and respect will be the best allies to improve interpersonal skills and optimize the office's operation. Despite the great competition that characterizes this segment, the patient's need for more personalized treatment requires professionals to continuously improve their services to offer the best clinical experience based on attention to the needs and characteristics of each patient.

Emotional dentistry is the cornerstone of healthy relationships between the patient and the doctor, as emotions play a crucial role in leading one’s life. Since most patients make permanent, instantaneous, and emotional decisions, education alone may not produce the desired value; instead, it is an emotion that does. Ones who recognize and accept their negative emotions like stress and frustration are in a position to control.