Roughly about one-third of the number of patients reported experiencing pretreatment anxiety while awaiting their regularly scheduled dental hygiene appointments, according to a new study published in the BMC Oral Health. As a family dental care Tigard provider, Dr. Greg Williams understands that not every patient enjoys visiting his office.
Dental anxiety and phobia appear to have remained fairly consistent among patients over the last 50 years, according to studies. This despite remarkable advancements made in dental treatment and technology.
Higher levels of dental anxiety may impact a patient’s receptiveness to health care information, treatment, and behavior modification. Expectations of pain, fear of the unknown, and the assumption that the worst would happen have all been mentioned as causes of dental anxiety in patients involved in this latest study.
Researchers were surprised to find that so many patients who received regular dental care experienced such high volume of anxiety for what was considered to be routine or harmless preventative procedures, such as cleanings and exams.
Despite not knowing exactly why so many patients suffer from some degree of dental anxiety towards routine hygiene treatments, it remains important that dental hygienists work to help easy patient distress during every appointment, stated researchers. That’s why Dr. Greg Williams’ staff is always willing to answer any questions you may have about treatment, so you feel comfortable about the care you’re about to receive.
As part of this small study, researchers examined 46 adult patients at the University of Zurich’s dental clinic. All patients involved in the study were awaiting their regularly scheduled dental hygiene appointment. The treatment included oral hygiene instruction, measuring plaque, and the removal of tartar and plaque deposits.
The researchers asked patients to complete a short survey. Researchers then examined the patient responses to measure the following:
- Dental anxiety
- Expected amount of pain
- Feelings of relaxation or stress
- General mood and alertness prior to receiving treatment
- General level of anxiety felt just by being in a dental clinic
The patients were then divided into groups that showed high anxiety and low anxiety. Each group was reported as experiencing different moods prior to treatment. Patients in the low anxiety group were reported as having a far superior attitude, were more alert, and calmer when compared to the high anxiety group.
The two groups were similarly composed in gender division, their total number of dental hygiene appointments received, and the average number of yearly dental visits. However, the low anxiety group tended to have a higher average age than the high anxiety group, which suggests an apparent trend for anxiety to recede with age.
The two groups each had a history of receiving similar treatments, such as implants, root canals, restorations, and periodontal surgeries. However, the higher anxiety group suffered from more gingivitis, while the low anxiety group suffered from more periodontitis. The high anxiety participants were also reported experiencing more stress prior to their appointments and tended to anticipate more pain during treatment when compared to the low anxiety group.
While anxiety prior to dental treatments isn’t uncommon, the authors of the study stressed the need for dentists to better explain to patients the advances made in treatment and care. The majority of dental procedures now require very little invasiveness, something that might help patients feel more at easy if widely understood.
As a family dental care Tigard provider, Dr. Greg Williams strives to provide a stress-free and comfortable experience for all patients. Our staff of gentle, dental hygienists use only the latest and least invasive methods during all cleanings and exams. Don’t let a fear of the dentist keep you from receiving the dental care you need. Schedule your next appointment with Dr. Greg Williams today.