Dental anxiety can be explained as the reaction of the patient towards the stress and fear associated with dental treatment/examination. People can be seen more comfortable when going to a physician as compared to a dental surgeon, the main reason behind this is the fear of getting a painful treatment however the reality is quite different as the dentists all over the globe have already started or are beginning the practice in a painless way.
A little anxiety is experienced by everyone but many patients miss their appointments or do not properly share their problems with the dentist, this leads to more problems for the patient as the chief complaint may not be dealt properly.
There are various ways the patient and dentist can work to reduce the stress and anxiety before and during the appointment.
A patient should always communicate and explain everything to the attending dental surgeon and attending staff about his/her anxiety, this includes sharing your fears and experiences associated which precipitates this anxiety.
If you have any doubts about any of your problem then do not hesitate to consult the dentist about it as many times getting to know what exactly is going to happen reduces the stress.
It is seen that early morning appointment times are associated with less stress as the patient feels fresh and relaxed after a good sleep, or any time when you know you will be free and without any personal or professional stress should be chosen.
It is seen that eating too much sugar before appointment induces little discomfort to the patient, patients should prefer a wholesome meal before the appointment so that they are not stressed due to eating too much sugar or due to starvation.
Listening to music
Many dental offices have speakers and a TV screen attached and you can ask them to play your favourite music or TV so that you remain distracted during the appointment.
Stress reduction objects
Fidget spinner or stress balls can be given to the patient in the office or can be carried by the patient which will help to reduce the stress.
If experiencing stress, you should take deep and slow breaths as many times patient can either slow down their breaths or hyperventilate therefore slow and deep breaths should be taken whenever the patient feels stressed.
Deciding treatment stopping sign
Usually dentist instructs the patient to show a sign like raising their hand if they feel pain or something is wrong, the patient should talk with the dentist and discuss about this so that patient feels confident about the treatment knowing if there is any problem he/she can get the treatment stopped immediately.
What can dental surgeons do to reduce patient anxiety
Play calming music throughout the appointment to relax the patient.
Talk with every patient and try to figure out if the patient is anxious or not and if needed use different aids to reduce the anxiety.
Properly anaesthetise the area where you will be working as pain increases anxiety and therefore the patient should experience a painless procedure.
Keep syringe and needle out of patient’s line of sight, a syringe should never be loaded in front of the patient, the dental surgeon and other staff should take care that the syringes are handled behind patients back.
Dental anxiety is indeed a problem faced by every one of us, but it can be managed very efficiently with help of both patient and the dentist.
Dr. Bhavik Patel
About the author: Dr Patel did his BDS from India and with aim towards providing better healthcare to the community is currently volunteering in Alabama, USA.