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Wed 11 Jun 2008 04:00 AM

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Hand signals may cut dental anxiety

A system of hand signals is being piloted in the US as a means of reducing dental anxiety in patients.

A system of hand signals is being piloted in the US as a means of reducing dental anxiety in patients.

The DentiSign method is designed to restore control to the patient during dental procedures, by creating a channel of communication with the dentist.

Raymond Cadden, the creator of the eight-sign method, said pilot studies showed the system helped fostered a team approach between the patient and treating dentist, leading to a better overall experience.

"The core of dental fear is the...loss of control," he said. "If we can restore a sense of control to the dental patient we can provide a better dental experience and enable the patient and dentist to become a team during each procedure."

The launch of the DentiSign method follows a Harvard paper published last year that suggested hand signals could help calm nervous patients.

The report Dental Health for Adults; A Guide to Protecting Your Teeth and Gums claimed using an agreed 'stop' signal could cut dental anxiety, by letting patients take breaks during procedures.

As an extended form of this technique, DentiSign hand signals can be learned in less than 15 seconds and are suitable for all practices.

"Dental patients and dentists have the same issues worldwide," said Cadden. "It enables dentists to treat patients that speak other languages...[and] enables everyone to have a universal dental language to communicate with."

The method can also have a positive impact on workflow and on practice referrals, Cadden claimed. "Dental procedures may be shortened...[and] happy patients refer their friends, and most patients consider trust as the differentiator when choosing a dentist."

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