Dealing with anxiety at the dentist

Dealing with anxiety at the dentist

AARON: When I first came to the dentist
here, I was a bit anxious. I didn’t know what to expect. TINA: I get nervous; Heidi doesn’t. She doesn’t particularly like it. She doesn’t mind when she first of all
thinks it’s going to be a tooth brush – like she’s just going to have
her teeth brushed – but otherwise, she’s a bit like,
“Oh! What’s happening?” “She’s got her fingers in my mouth!” SOPHIE: I wouldn’t say I’m particularly anxious
when I have a check-up, but when I have teeth taken out
or a filling, I am anxious. CHARLOTTE: As part of a community dental
service, our patients are referred to us generally from
general dental practitioners who haven’t been able to provide the
treatment for one reason or another. My patients that I see
have generalised anxieties or more specific anxieties and phobias. Some will have mental health diagnoses,
learning disabilities or autism, and anxiety plays a part
within that as well sometimes. PATIENT: I’ve been experiencing a bit of pain in the lower jaw on both sides
when I’m chewing. Upper left… CHARLOTTE:
It’s important to listen to the patient, make sure our patient care
is patient-centred and focused and give them the support they need
to get through the treatment. Great. You can help yourself
to that tissue if you want to just wipe your mouth. How do you feel that went for you today?
All right? – It was good, thank you.
– Not as bad as you thought it’d be? – Not at all.
– Excellent. OK, so, we’re just going to
lie you back, OK? – Here we go.
– Yeah. SOPHIE: The things that help me
when I’m anxious at the dentist is when the dental nurse, when I had my teeth taken out, held my hand. That made me feel better. She was just smiling lots
and talking to me. AARON: They talk to me and everything, and I have to wear
a pair of dark sunglasses and I just look up at the stars.
That’s what I enjoy, before they do things to me. TINA: It’s really important
to have somebody like Charlotte who actually understands Heidi’s needs and how difficult it can be
for both of us, especially if she needs
to have an operation as requiring just a filling.
She just puts us at ease. Got a six… CHARLOTTE: There are some specific
phobias that patients will present with. It’s important to try and work out exactly which part of the procedure
they’re nervous about and then we can go some way
to treating that. There are a number of different
techniques we can use to support the patient with this. For example,
a procedure called Tell-Show-Do works very well for patients
with specific phobias. OK, so this is my special
electric toothbrush. (BRUSH WHINES) OK? Let’s have a look on your thumb,
just to see how it feels. Good girl. SOPHIE: She was explaining
what she was going to do. – Is that OK?
– Yeah. Well done. And she showed me, like, on my hand how it was going to feel on my tooth. Well done. Good girl. One behavioural management technique I use
which I think is quite important is giving the patient
a feeling of control. And before we start treatment,
we will plan start and stop signs so that the patient knows at any point
if they want to stop the procedure, they can do that. If you just raise your hand up if you want
me to stop. Can you practise that for me? Good girl. By practising that and making sure
the patient trusts and believes that you will stop if they raise the hand, that goes a long way
to settling their anxieties and gives them back a feeling of control. Well done. OK? – Yeah.
– Very good. I find it very satisfying to feel
we’ve managed to help someone successfully achieve their dental care. The things I like
about going to the dentist are that it makes my teeth feel better. CHARLOTTE: Brilliant.
That’s fantastic. Well done. Heidi likes to get a little sticker
afterwards, especially if she’s been good! (LAUGHS) You should come to the dentist
and don’t be frightened. So that you don’t get rotten teeth. We know that if we can
give patients positive experiences, if they feel empowered
and have coping strategies, then hopefully they may go on
for the rest of their life being able to accept
dental treatment successfully.

4 thoughts on “Dealing with anxiety at the dentist

  1. I'm investigating being afraid of dentists and discovered a great website at tooth fixer formula (look it up on google)

  2. I too get nervous at dentists cause as a child my lower lip was sliced down the middle. Years later, a Japanese dentist helped me get over it. His approach was a bit extreme, but so was my tooth decay. I couldn't sit calmly in the chair, so he grabbed me by my throat looked me in the eyes and said I need to get my shit together for my mom. Although I very strongly grip the chairs – so much so that I once bent the metal armrest. But also having high pain threshold in high pain sensitivity means that I jump like a bitch at the first poke or prick but then I'm fine you could cut off a leg leg.

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