Dental patients are often confused by the rules of communication during an exam. Are patients supposed to make small talk or stay quiet? Can dentists and hygienists really understand patient mumbling? And why does the dentist only start talking once the tools are in your mouth?
Reasons Dentists Talk
To Reduce Your Anxiety
Between 9 and 15 percent of Americans have anxiety severe enough to prevent them from going to the dentist. Because of this, dentists and hygienists have a whole host of distraction techniques to make exams and procedures as comfortable as possible.
One such technique is keeping the conversation going. While you listen to the dentist talk and formulate a response, you have less time to pay attention to the sounds of dental instruments or the feel of someone poking around in your mouth.
To Gauge Your Emotions
As compassionate health care professionals, dental hygienists, dentists and oral surgeons want to make sure you aren’t in any pain while they are performing a cleaning, exam or procedure. Some patients stay quiet even if something hurts because they’re nervous or don’t want to be impolite. Knowing this, your dentist may check in and ask how you’re doing if they notice you wince, hold your breath or widen your eyes.
To Guide You Through the Procedure
Your dentist may warn you before using an instrument like a drill or needle. They may also go through your procedure step by step, so you are aware of what’s happening at all times. Some patients prefer this method because they feel more in control.
To Get to Know You
Dentists enjoy getting to know their patients on a more personal level, and there is a lot of time to chat during your exam or procedure. Dental professionals are people too, and sitting mere feet away from a person in utter silence can be awkward for everyone involved. They may ask about your family, job or recent vacations to get a sense of your interests and what’s going on in your life. It’s just casual small talk!
How to Respond
If You’re Feeling Talkative
Maybe you like socializing in the dental chair or maybe you talk more when you’re anxious. Either way, there’s no set etiquette for speaking to your dentist.
Some people mumble or grunt, others give a thumbs up or down, and still more wait to speak until their mouth is free of instruments. Believe it or not, dentists can usually understand you even if you think you’re speaking gibberish. They have a lot of practice deciphering garbled speech.
All that being said, don’t feel pressured to respond immediately. Dentists know that it’s near impossible to talk during an exam and won’t be offended if you choose not to speak.
If You Want to Relax
Some patients prefer to sit in silence or distract themselves from the appointment with music or TV. Others have anxiety that worsens when their dentist gives them a play-by-play of the procedure.
If that sounds like you, simply tell your dentist you don’t want to talk beforehand. They will respect your wishes and do their best to put you at ease.
If You’re in Pain
Always be honest with your dentist about discomfort, and don’t be afraid to vocalize it right away. You may need laughing gas, a topical anesthetic or Novocain to numb any pain before proceeding.
A simple “ahh” or raised hand will let your dentist know you’d like to stop. You can decide on a signal before the exam if that would make you more comfortable.
Communicate Openly With the Dentists at Providence Dental Spa
At Providence Dental Spa in Macon, Georgia, we focus on establishing meaningful connections with our patients so they feel safe during any general, cosmetic or restorative dental procedure.
Our highly qualified dentists and oral surgeons keep the lines of communication open from your first consultation through your final follow-up. We also make sure your experience is a relaxing one by providing:
- A beverage station
- Spa services
- Free Wi-Fi
- iHome headphones
- Our thanks!
Contact us today at (478) 733-0857 to schedule your first appointment.