Dentist’s Knack For Numbing Patient Anxiety
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Dr Reuben Sim says one of his patients’ aversions to dentistry kept them from the chair for years. One problem was that by the time Sim saw her, some of her teeth were rotten or missing. The other problem was that the patient was a real estate agent who felt dependent on her smile to make the right professional impression.
Sim, who says he sees many patients who are anxious about their visit, has a special interest in alleviating their anxiety.
He has invested considerable time, energy and finance into training and technology to facilitate his interest and offers a range of treatments to assuage his clients’ trepidation, including sleep dentistry, needless anaesthesia and minimal discomfort injections technology.
“It’s all about helping patients who suffer from dental fear and anxiety … That’s my passion,” he says.
Sim, with his dentist wife Dr May Chan, is co-founder of Dental Boutique, providers of cosmetic, general, preventive and restorative dentistry.
According to the Australian Dental Association, a typical day at work for a dentist involves wide-ranging responsibilities including diagnosing dental disease, restoring teeth, oral surgery and writing prescriptions.
Sim, who works four days a week as a clinician (seeing up to six patients a day) and 1½ days leading and supporting the management team of a growing dental practice, says a lot of the patients Dental Boutique attracts are seeking dentistry that treats the mouth as a whole, rather than individual teeth in isolation.
There’s an artistic dimension to his role too, he says, supported by technology that enables him to design smiles to suit his patients’ faces and show them what their smiles will look like in real life, before he begins treatment.
“Teeth don’t need to be symmetrical all the time, as long as they’re in harmony, and that’s where the art comes in,” Sim says.
In 2008, he completed a bachelor of dental surgery at the University of Adelaide — the only professional dental degree offered in South Australia.
He has since won numerous professional awards (including the South Australian Dental Service Prize and the Australian Society of Periodontology Prize), completed further qualifications and obtained the fellowships of the International College of Oral Implantologists and the International College of Continuing Dental Education.
Since graduating, Sim has travelled to a variety of destinations in Australia, as well as Britain, the US and Asia, for work and professional development in diagnosis and treatment.
In the next year, he says he hopes to consolidate his practice as the clinic of choice for patients who feel too anxious to approach the dentist to restore their mouths to optimal health.
“Any anxious patients who walk into our surgery should, by the end their visit, find a solution to overcome their fears,” he says.
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