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Nervous Patient: How to deal with dental anxiety  


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On 9 Jun 2016    

Dental Anxiety: What is it?

Dental anxiety is defined as experiencing feelings of fear and nervousness towards going to the dentist. The level of anxiety varies per patient. For some, it might be no more than a feeling of apprehension and slight fear. In more extreme cases, the patient may completely avoid appointments to the dentist, even to the detriment of their own health. They might ignore obvious gum problems or severe toothaches, because they feel trapped by fear and anxiety.

nervous patient

How do we deal with a nervous patient?

At Smiles Dental, we encounter nervous patients every single day. Differing in intensity, our friendly dentists and clinical teams are fully experienced at dealing with all variations of the nervous patient.

Our dentists adopt an “empathetic, patient-focused” approach. We begin by talking about how you feel about the dentist. We acknowledge any feelings of anxiety and create some context to them. We then decide on a practical solution together, to deal with the feelings of nervousness.

It’s important that you can communicate clearly and openly with your dentist about how you feel. That way, you’ll be able to reach an excellent solution together. Exceptional dental care involves ease of communication and trust between a patient and a dentist.

What are some some options for the nervous patient?

There are many options for dealing with a nervous patient. Please note: Availability of methods varies per dentist, specialization and extremity of the nervous patient case.

Example treatments:
  • Negotiation and communication with your dentist
  • Seating adjustments
  • Listening to music during a treatment
  • Relaxation techniques
  • CBT: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – This is a method of talking and discussing a problem and reframing it in a more positive light.
  • Dental Hypnosis
  • Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) – This is an approach to communication used to reprogramme a patient’s attitude to the dentist.
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Sedation – Sometimes referred to as “sleep dentistry” – this relaxes a patient in the dentist’s chair.

nervous patient

Dentist Spotlight: Dr.Philip Christie

Dr.Philip Christie from Smiles Dental Dundrum provided some of the above information from his experience of dealing with nervous patients. He has been practicing dental science for over 36 years. Dr. Christie has studied various models of psychotherapeutics and has completed a Master’s Degree in CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Having spent most of his working life dealing with anxious people in the dental chair, he is often called the “Therapist Dentist.” Dr.Christie believes that a caring, open and communicative approach to a nervous patient will put them at ease and help them work through any anxiety.

Our experienced, friendly team are dedicated to helping you work through any anxiety you may have.

Call your local Smiles Dental to book a nervous patient consultation. We look forward to giving you the quality, caring dental care that you deserve.

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