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Texas Edition  •  April 2018
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Tips for Managing Dental Anxiety
Tips for Managing Dental Anxiety

Many people experience a little anxiety when contemplating their next visit to the dentist, especially children. If unaddressed, dental anxiety can rise to levels that interfere with the delivery of the care and services that young patients need for healthy development and ongoing good oral health. The following tips and behavioral strategies can help overcome their fears.

  • Information: Provide the appropriate information using understandable words and terminology. Describe the procedure and what the patient will experience, like noises, vibrations, and tastes.
  • Relaxation: Use active relaxation strategies for patients who are visibly anxious. Techniques like deep breathing with deep inhalation and slow exhalation can be very useful.
  • Distraction: Use toys (as appropriate, for children) and conversation about a pleasant, non-dental topic to ...
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Tips for Managing Dental Anxiety

Many people experience a little anxiety when contemplating their next visit to the dentist, especially children. If unaddressed, dental anxiety can rise to levels that interfere with the delivery of the care and services that young patients need for healthy development and ongoing good oral health. The following tips and behavioral strategies can help overcome their fears.

  • Information: Provide the appropriate information using understandable words and terminology. Describe the procedure and what the patient will experience, like noises, vibrations, and tastes.
  • Relaxation: Use active relaxation strategies for patients who are visibly anxious. Techniques like deep breathing with deep inhalation and slow exhalation can be very useful.
  • Distraction: Use toys (as appropriate, for children) and conversation about a pleasant, non-dental topic to divert attention from fears. Other suggestions include TV/movies and video games.
  • Reinforcement: Provide positive reinforcement as incentive for "brave behavior" in the chair. Be genuine and use verbal praise and small, tangible rewards like stickers and temporary tattoos.
  • Parental Involvement: Utilize the presence of a parent in the treatment room to calm an anxious child. Consider using the parent as your "model" to show what the treatment will involve before you begin the procedure.

Addressing the anxiety patients of all ages may feel during a dental appointment is important to the overall success of treatment. This may be especially true for children; providing a great experience during new procedures can help them approach future dental appointments with less anxiety.

For more information about dental anxiety, visit Dental Fear Central at http://www.dentalfearcentral.org. The site offers a wealth of resources for both patients and dentists, including more tips for overcoming dental anxiety.

Information used in the creation of this article came from the following source: