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Managing Phobic Pts

Any tips on managing pts w/ dental anxiety/ needle anxiety to make the appt less overwhelming and tense?



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2 Answers

Awesome tips!! Thank you Kara!!

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Patients can have dental anxiety for a variety of reasons; a previous bad dental experience, fear of pain, fear of embarrassment, or even fear of feeling they aren’t in control. I like to find out what the patient is most fearful of- it gives me something to work with when it comes to easing the fear. When discussing their anxiety I show true concern and compassion to let them know that “I get it” and am not judging them. I even give examples of myself for needle phobic patients about how I am when I get my blood drawn and things like that. Discounting their fear has the potential to only make it worse. Another thing that can cause anxiety is if you are acting rushed. Stay calm around fearful patients. Your demeanor should set the mood.
 
It helps to give these patients a sense of control. I do this by allowing them to hold the suction if they want and letting them know that if they need me to stop treatment to raise their hand. I always explain everything I’m going to do, before I do it. Knowing what is coming helps ease nerves for some. This is especially helpful for patients with a needle phobia. I even explain what they feel during the injection (epi is acidic, like lemon juice, but I will go very slow to keep it as comfortable as I can). I’m also very encouraging while giving the injection, telling them how awesome they are doing, etc.
 
Distractions help too. If they want to bring earbuds and listen to music during treatment, I’m all for it. If you have a TV in your operatory, turn it on and have the patient put it on a channel they like.
 
Most of all be encouraging. For the patient who hasn’t been in for years, and has anxiety because they are embarrassed, let them know how great it is that they did decide to come in and how they should be very proud of themselves for following through. Stress the point that you aren’t judging them – do this with actions not just words.

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