Anxiety, doubts, and fear. As dark as they can be, such feelings do not exist only when we see a thriller or when misfortune strikes our lives. They are also common among many dentistry patients. And, no – as much as we would love to, we are not joking. Even though we live in the 21st century, bad memories associated with a trip to the dentist are still quite fresh in the minds of many people.

By now, you have probably heard of dental anxiety and, in essence, we all know how to describe the concept. It is nothing other than the dread that prevents us from scheduling an appointment for years. Sometimes, however, it also manifests as the helplessness we experience as soon as we sit in the dentist’s chair, or even as the fear of what might happen when treatment begins.

Regardless of whether we expect pain or another unpleasant feeling, this is a real problem. Fortunately, the key to solving it lies within what makes us all human beings: empathy and the ability to understand each other.

Exactly! As impressive and helpful as conscious sedation can be, there are other (and more powerful) tools we can use to overcome such fear and anxiety. As human beings who share the same goal (to improve the oral condition of a patient), we just need to learn how to connect the best way possible.

Obviously, both technology and new procedures are important to provide excellent treatment. Even so, the best professional is the one that also listens to the anxieties, questions, and expectations of those who come to the consulting room after so much hesitation or despair. This is what will make the patient feel they were respected, understood and valued as a person. This is also what will make them willing to return and endure a complex treatment or embrace long-term dental care.

And do you know what is more beautiful than returning home with a completely rehabilitated mouth? The feeling we experience when a friend of ours manages to overcome a great and difficult challenge. In fact, few experiences could be as rewarding to any human being like the feeling of shared victory. Again, as people, we crave for connection and whenever we witness someone we value feeling happy or relieved, we cannot help but feel the same way. That is what separates us – regardless of our profession – from mere automatons or machines.

Just like two teammates, or even two partners in a dance, is the sort of relationship we should develop every day between patient and dentist.