Tips For Dentists on Treating Anxious Patients

Common Reasons People Are Scared of Visiting the Dentist

In the U.S., an estimated nine to 15 percent of Americans avoid dental visits because of fear and anxiety. In the U.K., a survey found that 36% of respondents who never had regular dental appointments cite fear as the reason.

Being afraid of the dentist is common, and in a way, somehow understandable since there are dental procedures that can be quite painful. But most dental procedures aren’t, so why are so many people still afraid of getting oral care from a dentist?

  1. Fear of pain
    As mentioned above, most dental procedures aren’t painful, but the anticipation of pain can be as crippling as pain itself. Six percent of respondents to a survey covering people who haven’t had a dental checkup for a year said the fear of pain stopped them from seeing a dentist. Interestingly, adults 24 years and older tend to be more prone to fear of pain.
  2. Feelings of embarrassment
    Many people are very self-conscious about their body, and having a stranger poke around their mouth can trigger major bouts of self-consciousness. There’s also the fact that dentists and hygienists need to be in the faces of their patients while doing their work. That is another anxiety trigger that could lead to more discomfort.
  3. Feelings of loss of control
    When a patient sits in the dental chair, and the dentist starts working, he or she could feel like they have relinquished control, right to the point where they feel helpless. The idea that they can’t see what’s going on or can’t expect when to feel pain could set off their dental anxiety.
  4. Traumatic dental experiences
    Impolite staff. A negligent receptionist. Not being given enough anesthetic. A very painful procedure made worse by the dentist’s uncaring demeanor. All these are traumatic experiences that could make a person anxious for every subsequent dental visit. Some may even turn away from any kind of dental procedure forever.
  5. What dentists can do calm anxious patients
    Dental anxiety and phobia are mental conditions, and there are no magic pills for them. There are, however, many things that a dental professional can do to help them handle or manage these fears so they can get the oral care that they definitely need.

A dentist can start by creating a calm and relaxing office environment. Placing comfortable chairs, having a moderate temperature and playing relaxing music in the waiting room can go a long way in calming patients down. Installing a fish tank or a small waterfall can also have a soothing effect on anxious patients.

For more tips about treating anxious dental patients, check out the infographic provided by Dental Studio 101, a cosmetic dentistry in Scottsdale, AZ.