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Managing dental anxiety

Tuesday, September 7, 2021 | Posted in GEHA Connection Dental Network News

Dental anxiety is a common issue among American adults — nearly 80% of adults feel anxiety before dental treatment. As a result, patients may experience physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral responses, as well as avoid the environments that stimulate these negative feelings, increasing the likelihood of missed dental appointments. The pandemic has only increased general stress and anxiety, which has many consequences on a person’s oral health. Recent studies have shown an increase in stress-related dental conditions like teeth grinding. Additionally, studies show that people are even less willing to go to the dentist during the pandemic due to the risk of infection. Patients with dental anxiety require careful and considerate management by the dental hygienist, especially during the pandemic. Working with the patient’s therapist or mental health team to identify the patient’s type of anxiety and collaborating to support the patient’s care is essential when creating a trauma-informed dental care appointment. It is also important for dental hygienists to manage their own mental health, as treating patients with anxiety can be stressful. In response to possibly heightened levels of dental anxiety, dental hygienists should effectively communicate with patients and closely adhere to guidelines and safety protocols designed to keep patients and dental professionals safe. Source: