Dealing with Patient Anxiety: Are you helping or not?

Author: Jennifer Pisk
Jennifer Pisk

Jennifer Pisk

Jennifer Pisk is the Marketing Research Intern for DEFEND by Mydent International. To relieve patient anxiety with children, she recommends Mydent’s Krazy Cone Face Masks, featuring delightful characters used by pediatric dentists. Jenn also contributes to Mydent’s social media marketing through Facebook , Twitter and LinkedIn.
04.01.14 / 9:15 am

Many people experience dental anxiety and would rather endure discomfort in the mouth over a visit to the dentist. Typically, this anxiety stems from the anticipation of the pain rather than the pain itself. Other anxiety factors may include fear of the unknown, dental equipment, past experiences or being overly sensitive to pain. No matter what the case may be, modern dentistry continues to develop new techniques to alleviate various forms of anxiety.

As a dental professional, what are methods you can use to help your patients combat anxiety?

Helpful tips include:

Creating a more comfortable environment:

-It may be adjusting the temperature in the room or possibly providing a blanket or pillow. Also, many people feel more relaxed while listening to music. Ask your patient what they’d like to listen to or choose something light and calm. Consider enhancements to your scenery by adding decorative pictures, positive color palettes and visually enticing objects.

Having an empathetic approach:

-If a patient seems to be nervous, listen to what they have to say about their fears. This shows that you have an understanding about what the patient is going through. Avoid lines that are unpromising and phony. Instead, reassure the patient that many other people have similar concerns.

Give them a break:

-Many patients like to have some sort of control during a procedure. For instance, it would be effective for the patient to provide a hand signal as to when he or she wants a break. This can help calm the patient down.

Make the pain go away:

-Patients who are afraid of injections have the option of smaller gauge needles and better techniques. Remember to inform them. While periodontal surgery can be painful, for example, emphasize to your patient that sedatives will greatly reduce the pain.

Establish a trusting relationship with your patient:

-With the anxious feeling of the unknown, patients put their full trust in you as you guide them through the pathway to perfect dental health. Make sure that you ask them how they are doing or what is new in their lives – this will show that you have an interest in them. It develops a sense of closeness between you and the patient. People do not like to feel as if they are just a customer of yours; they want to be a part of something.

These tips may seem a bit general, but many times, health professionals may forget to exercise these techniques throughout their day without even realizing it. These simple tips can make a real difference in your patient’s experience.

Thank you for reading!

Jennifer Pisk

Jennifer Pisk

Jennifer Pisk is the Marketing Research Intern for DEFEND by Mydent International. To relieve patient anxiety with children, she recommends Mydent’s Krazy Cone Face Masks, featuring delightful characters used by pediatric dentists. Jenn also contributes to Mydent’s social media marketing through Facebook , Twitter and LinkedIn.

6 responses to “Dealing with Patient Anxiety: Are you helping or not?”

  1. When most people think about going to the dentist, a lot of them get anixety about it and agree with these points esp. with giving them a break. You need to understand that for some people, it can be a little scary sitting there in that chair.

  2. Dental anxiety is common among patients. Mastering ways to avoid patient dental anxiety may be a superiority to dental clinic. Thanks for Jennifer Pisk sharing so useful tips.

    Zeta dental blog

  3. I have dealt with nervous patients in my over 25 years of dentistry. Many patients respond well to the techniques you mentioned, but some are so anxious, they require some level of sedation. While this is something I prefer to do only for longer and more complex procedures, it is sometimes a necessary tool.

    I also try to help my patients set realistic expectations prior to the procedure to help them ease their fears. This is very helpful, and fortunately, pain and anxiety management have come along way in the past few decades.

  4. Jenn, this is an excellent article on patient anxiety! This is something that dental professionals should find helpful. It’s nice to see that you’re an intern for Mydent. Best of luck 🙂

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