In the life of a dentist, there are two kinds of people: those who appreciate and even enjoy a trip to their oral hygienist, and those who have inducted dentists into the terrifying ranks of ghouls, goblins and the boogeyman himself.

“It’s tough when you encounter a patient who is just terrified,” said Dr. Jason Alvarez, DDS. “Not only do you have to do work on them in a timely, efficient and comfortable manner, you have to develop a relationship with them before they even trust you enough to do the work.”

On top of that, Dr. Alvarez said there is a rare third kind of patient: the ones who already trust another dentist, but don’t necessarily trust any other dentist.

“Sometimes, a patient is so used to seeing someone else. A lot of them feel the same way about their dentist as they do about their hairdresser. It’s hard for them to switch!” Dr. Alvarez said. “They don’t want to see someone new, and that can be difficult for them.”

Dr. Alvarez said that one particular challenge came about when he inherited a patient who was already halfway through a difficult procedure. This forced him to not only overcome any traditional hesitations a patient might have, but to also fill the shoes of a doctor he knew nothing about.

“This patient had moved to our area, and she already had temporaries in her mouth and really wanted to have the case finished to her liking,” he said. “She was scared and nervous — I was going to be the new dentist, and I didn’t know how that would sit with her.”

In the face of such situations, Dr. Alvarez said he tries to offer his patients some comfort — and inspire trust — by having a friendly, personal conversation with them before discussing treatment plans or even beginning the exam.

“I talk to them about their families, favorite TV shows, music and other interests. That way I develop a true rapport with that patient, which allows them to have confidence in me,” he said. “It’s not necessarily something you’re taught in dental school, but it’s something you develop through experience.”

Using this same strategy, Dr. Alvarez was able to help his patient overcome her fear, and she allowed him to step in and finish the job.

“Once I got to know her face to face and spent that quality time developing a personal relationship, she trusted me enough to give me a chance. And by the time her case was finished, she was smiling and hugging me and telling me how she was so happy to have had me do the procedure on her,” Dr. Alvarez said. “And that was very, very rewarding.”

Beau Sourire Family Dentistry

2881 Highway 190, Suite D4, Mandeville 985-626-8980,

6 years in practice; DDS from Louisiana State University School of Dentistry; Native of Mandeville