As a seasoned dental clinician, I’ve seen my fair share of patients suffering from dental anxiety. This debilitating condition often keeps people from visiting the dentist, and as a result they can accumulate a lot of dental issues.
What is dental anxiety?
Dental anxiety, or dental phobia, is an overwhelming fear of the dentist. It is typically based on past negative experiences and can cause people to feel anxious about going to the dentist. To conquer this, patients must overcome many emotional hurdles. Clinicians must also approach them with empathy and understanding and offer tools to help ease their anxiety.
Treating patients with dental anxiety
In our office, there are several ways we help patients overcome dental anxiety and get their dental health back on track.
We get to know the patient and their story.
It’s important to understand someone’s story before discussing their dental issues and treatment plan. This includes their dental history and past traumas that have contributed to their dental anxiety, as well as their specific fears. Sometimes this is the noise of the dental office, or the fear of getting numb. Light can also trigger anxiety for some people.
We establish trust and a strong rapport.
During the initial consultation, it’s important that we develop trust with the patient experiencing dental anxiety. To move forward, they must look our staff as people they can trust and who want to help them. Part of this is a gut feeling the patient gets around our team. The other part is based on our reputation and training.
We thoroughly explain the diagnosis and treatment.
Anxiety is caused by fear of the unknown. When we explain the diagnosis and procedure to the patient, we’re helping to unravel some of the underlying anxiety related to dentistry. Oftentimes, things are not nearly as bad as the patient thinks. This is a huge relief and can help ease some of the anxiety about treating their issues.
We use conscious oral sedation.
One of the best tools in overcoming dental anxiety is conscious oral sedation. This form of sedation dentistry uses oral medication to provide a moderate sedation. The patient is still conscious, but in more of a “twilight state,” or a deeper level of consciousness than normal. In this state, time passes more quickly so a four-hour appointment will feel like 30 minutes. This is great for people who require a lot of dental work. We are often able to get 10 years’ worth of dental work done in one appointment.
Do you get anxious about going to the dentist office?
If you experience dental anxiety, oftentimes the biggest obstacle is picking up the phone and making an appointment. Once you’re in our office, our team will ensure that you feel safe and comfortable and help ease your mind as much as possible.
We’ve seen many patients overcome their fear of the dentist and get their dental health back on track. After the appointment, they’re often very emotional and proud that they were able to overcome their fear – and our team is happy to serve a role in their journey.
Interested in sedation dentistry to treat your dental anxiety? Call us at (813) 689-4226 to schedule a consultation today.