A visit to the dentist, while essential, can spark nerves in many patients. For some, it goes beyond that. Many individuals suffer from full-blown dental anxiety or dentophobia, fear of visiting the dentist for dental work. The smells, sounds, and anticipation of what’s to come can prevent some people from undertaking much needed dental care.
Dr. Samantha Hollinger of TRU Dentistry specializes in working with patients who suffer from dental anxiety. She understands the source of that fear and explains, “The mouth is an emotional place! It’s our source of basic human needs – communication, nutrition, and breathing. Many people’s anxiety is just because we are working with the most important part of the body. It can be a very strange situation with new smells, feelings and sounds all contributing.”
Dr. Hollinger understands that anxiety is real and has made it her mission to ensure each of her patients has a positive experience so their dental health isn’t neglected. Dr. Hollinger says the “experience” starts from the moment a patient walks in the door. She states, “We provide a calm and comforting environment and a proper introduction. Too often patients feel ‘unseen’ or unacknowledged while being shuffled from room to room which increases anxiety. Our ‘guests’ are greeted with a warm smile and handshake as we assess their level of anxiety and needs.
“For patients who express nerves, there are things that can be done to prepare the exam room in advance of the patient arriving. These preparations include dimmed lights, a TV for distraction, making sure the dental instruments are hidden, and having headphones and dark glasses at the ready. For someone with more extreme anxiety, TRU offers sedation dentistry techniques, including anti-anxiety medications and conscious sedation, such as nitrous oxide.”
Once a patient is relaxed in the office, the focus shifts to the exam and treatment plan. “We do a quick exam and then spend more time planning out how to minimize their visits,” Dr. Hollinger says. “The best way to reduce a patient’s continual anxiety is to reduce the number of heavy treatment visits. Conscious sedation is a great way to get a significant portion of treatment done at once to reduce anxiety.”
For some people, information is comforting, but details are stressful. Dr. Hollinger says, “We brief patients on what will go on during the procedures to the extent they are comfortable. I’ve found that once the first visit is out of the way, the patient knows what to expect and subsequent visits are much easier. It’s just getting in for that first visit.
“Simple cleanings and check-ups are generally a lot less anxiety-inducing, so we usually recommend starting with those if there is no immediate pain or problem. TRU Dentistry also offers same-day appointments so there’s little time for nerves to build up in anticipation of the visit which helps.”
Find a dentist near you who understands what it means to fear the dentist and is willing to take the appropriate measures to ensure your comfort. Dr. Samantha Hollinger and TRU Dentistry are conveniently located on South Lamar Boulevard in Austin, TX and are ready to help with your dental anxiety.
Book your appointment today and learn to love the dentist!