Strategies to Reduce Fear/Anxiety/Phobia Part 1 of 4: Informational Control
A detailed assessment of dental anxiety with lots of questioning and clarifications can often help to diminish the level of anxiety slightly. It is essential that a patient feels the dentist has a thorough understanding of the individual components of a patient’s anxiety so the unique nature of the anxiety can be correctly addressed.
Control techniques are one of the cornerstones of anxiety management. There are four types of control techniques and each type addresses certain aspects of dental anxiety.
1. Informational Control
This type of control addresses the amount and nature of the information the dentist provides for the patient. Initially, it is important to identify if a patient is a “blunter” or a “monitor”. These types of information control the amount of information provided. ‘Blunters’ are people whom increased amounts of information;; specific details of procedures and an ongoing running monologue of the treatment that is being delivered would result in soaring levels of anxiety. Blunter’s require minimal information to help keep their anxiety controlled. ‘Monitors’ are the opposite. This type requires all of the details of the procedure;; an ongoing stream of information about what exactly is going on and how long certain steps will last. ‘Monitors’ require large amounts of information to keep their anxiety controlled.
An additional part of information control is preparing the patient for the sensations they can expect to feel or sounds they may hear. Some patients because they have experienced pain during previous dental procedures wait in a state of “red alert” with heightened anticipation foreboding waiting for pain. In this state even innocuous sounds or sensations will make them jump and will be interpreted negatively. If the patient is prepared for the new sounds or sensations they are less likely to be interpreted negatively. For example the bumping associated with use of slow speed handpiece or water flow associated with the high speed handpiece.
Parts 2,3 and 4 are coming soon.