Difficult Patients | Dentist Area

As a dentist, you are sure to be aware that some patients require more attention than others, for a number of different reasons. It is important that you treat each patient in the most appropriate way possible, from nervous patients to children, the elderly and patients with medical conditions.

Before dental treatment commences, you must engage your patient in a consultation, to assess their individual needs and any concerns they may have.

Nervous Patients

You are probably aware that a lot of people are so anxious about visiting the dentist that they avoid dental treatment altogether, putting their teeth and oral health at great risk.

As a dentist, you must recognise and be sympathetic to the fact that many patients experience real anxiety about all dental procedures. You should offer certain approaches that will help to ease patients’ minds, overcome their dental phobia and relax so that you can treat them easily.

One of the most essential parts of your job as a dentist is to listen carefully to your patient, understanding their concerns and requirements in order to solve their dental phobia. One of the most effective ways of working with particularly anxious patients is to offer them sedation dentistry.

Injecting the patient with intravenous sedation is an effective way to deal with their dental anxiety. The medications involved within the injection will calm and relax the patient, but will not prevent the patient from communicating with you throughout the dental procedure, meaning that treatment can still easily be carried out. You must communicate with your patient during the procedure, making sure they know what you are doing at all times, and trust is maintained.

Please note that sedation must be discussed with the patient in the consultation before treatment commences, and you must assess their age, weight and medical conditions to determine whether or not they are suitable for IV sedation. Patients must be informed that the medication will make them drowsy (but still able to co-operate and communicate with you and the rest of the dental team), and that they will be unable to drive home after the procedure so arrangements must be made for their departure from the clinic after treatment. You must also advise patients not to drink alcohol or operate machinery until the effects have fully worn off.


Children can often be difficult patients to treat, and many feel nervous about going to the dentist, so it’s important that you make their visit a pleasant experience in order to gain their trust so that they lose any dental anxiety they have at an early age. You must make every child you treat feel confident and comfortable with dental visits, and teach them the very best ways to care for their teeth. Your staff should communicate with children in a friendly manner, and talk as much to the child as they do to the parents. Providing toys and children’s reading material in the waiting area will also help child patients to feel comfortable during their visits to your practice.

Elderly Patients

Many elderly patients require various restorative and preventative procedures in order to retain their natural teeth. Your job as a dentist is to understand the requirements of your elderly patients and ensure that you are fully equipped to cater for their dental needs.

Providing dental treatment for elderly patients involves more skill and knowledge than general dentistry. Your staff should have experience in the administration of oral health medication, making clinical decisions with elderly patients and understanding the impact of various medications on patients’ oral health.

Patients with Medical Conditions

Often, patients have disabilities or medical conditions that require special equipment or more time and care. As a dentist, you should offer alternative treatments to cater for the needs of all patients. In some cases, it may be physically impossible for your patient to make it into the practice, in which case it’s important to consider home care as an option.

You must be aware of all medications that your patients take on a regular basis, in order to prevent complications or allergic reactions. If required, you should ask your patient for their GP’s details, so that you can consult them if necessary.