Tips for Dentists to Help Patients with Dental Anxiety
Treating patients with dentophobia or dental anxiety can be challenging for any dentist. However, it’s important to try to help relieve any fear, so they make appointments in the future.
About 36 percent of people living in the United States have a fear of dentists. Yet, even though dental anxiety is common, dentists and patients rarely discuss it.
In this article, we will share some ways dentists can help patients with dental anxiety feel more comfortable each time they visit.
Reasons people have dental anxiety
First it’s important to understand why patients may be anxious or fearful. People skip going to the dentist for many reasons, including the fear, stress, and anxiety associated with dental procedures or previous negative experiences.
Here are some reasons people have anxiety at the dentist:
- Traumatic dental care or healthcare experience
- Trauma to the head, face, or neck area
- Past trauma or abuse
- Depression or PTSD
- Trust issues
- Fear of being out of control
- Anxiety, which can come from these disorders:
Ways dentists can help patients with dental anxiety
Now that we know why people suffer from dental anxiety let’s look at tips for how dentists can help these patients. As a dentist, it is important to educate your patients about the adverse effects of skipping appointments and make them feel comfortable during their visit.
Patients can trap themselves in a cycle of dental fear, which leads to delayed dental visits and ultimately even more dental problems.
Here are strategies dentists can use to help their patients ease dental anxiety:
- Care and communication: One of the best ways to ease patient anxiety is to help them feel comfortable. Asking patients to voice their concerns aloud can help them to relax. In addition, remember to check on your patient before, during, and after the dental procedure.
- Control of appointment: Express to your patients that they have some control. For example, allow the patient to let you know when they are ready to begin a procedure and give them the option to have hand signals to “stop” and “start.”
- Distractions: Distractions at the dentist are becoming more common because they are very effective at easing patients’ fear. Examples of helpful distractions include calm music, deep breathing techniques, and mobile phone games.
- Office atmosphere: Try to make the vibe around your dental office inviting with warm and natural lighting. A dental office with calm music, a pleasant smell, a variety of reading options, and food or beverage options can help patients feel more comfortable.
- Follow-up: To keep patients from falling into the cycle of dental fear, we recommend following up to ensure the dental experience was positive. This extra touchpoint can help build relationships and get patients into a consistent dental routine.
Using some or all of the tips above can help patients feel more comfortable during their appointments. Patients who are relaxed are more likely to come back for regular appointments.
Easing dental anxiety keeps patients coming back
Positive experiences at the dentist play a significant role in easing dental anxiety, so treating even the most anxious patients with a little extra kindness, compassion, and care is essential.
Looking for more information on dental anxiety? Check out this blog: