Panic Attacks – Addressing the Roots of Dental Fear

Author: Dr. Reem Kidess | Posted on with 0 comments

dental fearby Dr. Reem Kidess

Meet Heather. Heather is in her early 50s, and is a very sweet and intelligent woman. She came into Dr. Kidess’s office with an abscessed tooth, which is considered a dental emergency. Heather, however, experienced severe panic attacks, based on dental fear when it came to office visits. Heather also had some health history issues, including pre-diabetes, hypertension, and was overweight, which posed a secondary issue regarding anesthesia safety precautions.

After talking with Dr. Kidess, it was discovered that this fear began when Heather had her wisdom teeth removed during her late teen years. She recalled being given the numbing medication and soon after, her heart began to furiously race. Heather also believed that she was left alone in the room while the dentist waited for the numbing to set in. Quite understandably, this triggered a flight-or-flight panic reaction for Heather, who was feeling scared, helpless, and alone. In this panicked state, her body reacted like you might expect it to; with flailing arms and legs, sending trays and instruments flying. While of no fault of her own, this was an incident Heather was embarrassed to discuss.

Dr. Kidess was able to assure Heather that it was nothing she needed to be embarrassed about and explained to her what she believed actually happened that day. Typically, when a dentist injects the numbing medication too close to a vein, some patients can experience an epinephrine reaction causing their heart to race. Dr. Kidess was able to show this to Heather on her skeletal model “Dexter,” which made a lot of sense to Heather and it made her feel much better about it. Dr. Kidess was able to treat her abscessed tooth safely and without inducing a panic reaction. Heather left the office that day with a smile and a new confidence in dental care.

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