Helping Patients with Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia

Closeup portrait young terrified girl woman scared at dentist visit, siting in chair, covering her mouth, doesn't want dental procedure, drilling, tooth extraction, isolated clinic office background

It’s not a good idea to avoid going to the dentist. Dental checkups are mostly about providing preventive care. But if you miss your checkups, small problems can get a lot worse. Plaque and tartar buildup can turn into gum disease and tooth decay. Gum disease and tooth decay can cause a patient to lose one or more teeth. And if gum disease isn’t effectively treated, it can eventually lead to serious health issues such as strokes, heart disease, and alzheimer’s disease.

What are Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia?

Unfortunately, many people are reluctant to visit the dentist due to dental anxiety or dental phobia, two related conditions that afflict millions of Canadians. According to Stats Canada, 40 percent of Canadians have a “strong fear of going to the dentist.”

For people who struggle with dental anxiety, the thought of visiting the dentist causes levels of fear that are “exaggerated” or “unfounded.” The symptoms of dental phobia are much more intense than dental anxiety. Dental phobia leaves patients feeling panic stricken when they think about going to the dentist.

What Dentists Can Do

There are several things dentists can do to help patients overcome dental anxiety. But it all begins with creating a safe and pleasant environment for patients to receive dental care. That’s why everyone who works in a dental office should speak softly when patients are present. They should also refrain from using any threatening actions or body language.

It’s also helpful for patients with dental anxiety or dental phobia if the dentist meets privately with them in his office before treatment begins. This allows the dentist to describe the upcoming treatment in a relaxed setting and answer any question that patients might have.  

Another thing dentists can do to help put patients at ease is to take frequent breaks during treatment. It’s also reassuring when the dentist provides positive reinforcement to the patient. One thing that a dentist should never do is scold patients about how long it’s been since their last visit. Guilt about the condition of their teeth is a major cause of apprehension for patients with dental anxiety and dental phobia.

What Patients Can Do

Patients are encouraged to seek treatment from a mental health professional for their dental anxiety or dental phobia. There are several techniques that have been successfully employed to treat dental anxiety and dental phobia, including systematic desensitization, cognitive therapy, and biofeedback. Patients can also try relaxation strategies on their own. Breathing exercises can be particularly effective for helping people relax. In fact, there are a number of them available on youtube.

Your Full Service Dentist in Lake Williams

Dr. Wassenaar offers a wide range of restorative and cosmetic services for patients in the Lake Williams area. Call to schedule an appointment and discover what we can do for your smile.

 

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Covid-19 (Corona) Virus

                                                                     

                   

Our team at Williams Lake Smiles is excited to have the opportunity to welcome you back soon! Dr. Wassenaar, Dr. Dahia and the whole Williams Lake Smiles team appreciate your continued support and understanding as we continue to move through this difficult time

We are gradually reopening in the safest way to ensure that we take all precautions to keep both our patients and our staff healthy.

At this time, we are focusing on addressing emergency needs for our patients. Full dental services, including hygiene care, will be introduced gradually with priority booking to the patients that were delayed treatment during our time of closure. We will be contacting our patients to reschedule these procedures in the coming weeks.

Our office has always utilized personal protective equipment (PPE) that has exceeded all the recommended guidelines. We consciously designed our office with well-spaced, separate treatment rooms that allow minimization of aerosol transfer throughout the office. We have also added a brand new HEPA air management system to allow continuous air filtration in all treatment rooms and common areas to remove germs from circulating air. This puts us in a good position moving forward. However, in consideration of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic we have instituted additional guidelines and protocols to ensure your safety and that of our team.

Upon returning to Williams Lake Smiles you will notice our new enhanced precautions:

-When you are scheduling an appointment, our staff will ask you a set of health-related questions.

-You will be contacted 48-72 hours prior to your appointment via email and asked a set of pre-appointment instructions and health-related questions. It is required that you complete this questionnaire prior to your appointment. We will have to reschedule your appointment if we are unable to complete this step. Please also give our administrative staff all the necessary personal contact information to expedite our communications with you and your family.

-We have implemented new protocol for scheduling your appointments and managing your insurance and financial transactions virtually to allow for a contactless exit from your appointment.

-There will be new arrival procedures to guide you from your car directly to treatment rooms to eliminate contacting surfaces and other patients.

-You will be asked the above screening questions again on your arrival to your appointment.

-Your temperature will be taken on arrival. Again, we will have to reschedule your appointment if your temperature is elevated.

-You will be asked to put on the provided shoe covers and disinfect your hands upon arrival.

-All non-essential companions will be asked to remain outside of the clinic during the appointment. This includes friends, spouses, drivers, parents, and other children.

-We will maintain social distancing in the reception area for essential caregivers and parents of minors if they absolutely cannot wait in a vehicle or outside the clinic.

-We have removed magazines and other items that can harbor or transfer germs of any kind

-Glass barriers have been added in our reception area

-We have enhanced clinic disinfection procedures before and after all appointments.

-You will see new personal protection equipment like visors, gowns, and different masks for our doctors and team to provide barriers against the smallest of germs.

-We have protocols to reduce or eliminate airborne aerosols during all dental procedures.

-We have enhanced continuous disinfection procedures of equipment and office fixtures like computers, keyboards, telephones, tablets, chairs, doorknobs, and buttons that may be touched unconsciously.

-We will be disinfecting all outside mail and packages that enter the building.

-We will have longer appointment times for you to prepare and complete all appointment tasks and duties in the safest and most comprehensive manner.

-Appointments will be managed to allow for social distancing between patients. That might mean fewer options will be available for scheduling your appointment.

We ask that, as we have so many patients to see, you treat your reserved dental appointment with the highest level of respect. Answer the screening questions honestly. Please arrive on time for your appointment. We may not be able to see you if you are late. If you miss your appointment it may be quite some time before we can get you back in.

We are committed to maintaining our high standard of dental health and safety under these new circumstances and appreciate your confidence in us.

We look forward to seeing you again and are happy to answer any questions you may have about the steps we are taking to keep you, and every patient, safe in our practice.

We are all excited to get back to work. Thank you for being our patients. We value your trust and loyalty and look forward to welcoming back our patients, neighbours, and friends.

Sincerely,

Dr. Rudy Wassenaar

Dr. Sophia Dahia

And the entire Williams Lake Smiles Team


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