Most people don’t rate dental visits as an enjoyable experience—even so, they’ll routinely schedule and attend their dental appointments once or twice a year as a matter of maintaining good oral health.
For others, the very idea of going to the dentist is a non-negotiable. Not only will they neglect to make regular dental checkups–due to their anxieties surrounding these visits–but they may even refuse or put off treatment altogether. This may occur even when it’s absolutely needed for addressing pain or some other kind of dental issue.
By avoiding going to the dentist, a small dental issue can become severe, posing a real threat to the person’s health. To prevent worst-case scenarios, dental health professionals can be of assistance by making the dental visit as pleasant and comfortable as possible for clients while being on the lookout for signs of anxiety to calm their fears.
To understand more about dental anxiety, let’s take a look at the condition.
What Is Dental Anxiety and What Causes It?
Anytime someone feels fear, anxiety, or stress in a dental environment, we can call this dental anxiety. Unlike standard butterflies, those with dental administration training should be aware of the more extreme version of the anxiety, which causes the sufferer to avoid and delay treatment.
Affecting people of all ages, dental anxiety is usually caused by associations with some of the standard instruments of dentistry. Drills, pliers, and needles are examples of items that tend to preoccupy the mind of the sufferer, also acting as triggers of anxious thoughts. Standard smells and noises of the dental clinic can also be strong triggers. The fear may have been caused by a particularly traumatic dental checkup, but can also be due to generalized anxiety, the fear of losing control, or other anxious conditions triggered by the dental environment such as claustrophobia or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
What Are the Symptoms of Dental Anxiety?
Dental anxiety may quickly reveal itself to a person who’s attended dental office administration college, with the sufferer displaying obvious signs of panic from the time of arrival. In the waiting room, they may be shaking, tapping their foot nervously, hyperventilating, or sweating. Visible signs of distress in young children may include crying or extreme withdrawal.
Other symptoms of the condition will not be as obvious, such as an upset stomach, hot flashes, the use of humour or excessive chattiness to cover up fear, a racing heartbeat, palpitations, and lowered blood pressure, which can sometimes lead to fainting.
What Are the Repercussions of Ongoing Dental-Related Anxiety?
People who are fearful of going to the dentist may widen the gap more and more between visits, creating a vicious cycle of dental anxiety. The less frequently they go, the imagined fear surrounding each visit intensifies, causing them to put off going all the more. Clients with extreme anxiety may not have been to the dentist for years, and in some cases even decades.
Routine cleanings and screenings are crucial for preventing cavities, gum disease, and many other harmful dental issues. Putting off cleanings puts a client at risk of developing major dental problems, requiring complex treatment. A lack of proper oral hygiene can also lead to many other health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory disease.
How Can It Be Addressed and Treated?
Parents of children with a dental phobia will often work together with the dental team to find ways to manage the situation, which can be as simple as fostering a more pleasant environment on future visits to include some kind of reward-based positive reinforcement.
Dental teams can also assist adults with ongoing fears, often including open discussions on creating environments for visits that are as trigger-free as possible. The dentist may advise relaxation therapy, which may include counselling, meditation, deep breathing, or distraction through the use of music or screens. Clients requiring intense dental work may require more interventive treatment methods for combating their fears, such as the use of anxiety relieving medications, nitrous oxide, or even general anesthesia for more serious procedures.
How Can Those with Dental Administration Training Help?
All members of the dental practice team, including dental office staff, have an important role to play in preventing dental anxiety in the client. The dental office administrator can help by creating a pleasant environment the moment a client arrives. They can also assist with identifying sufferers so that a treatment plan may be suggested to help allay fears and foster a quick return to routine dental screening.
Are you interested in pursuing a career in the dental industry?
Contact Medix College to learn more about our dental office administration diploma program!