Adults with a severe dental anxiety/dental phobia Many patients struggle to cope with dental treatment within the general dental services due to dental anxiety or phobia.
Most of these patients may be managed within general dental practice through acknowledging their concerns and affording the patient more time and patience. However, some patients experience anxiety/phobia to such a degree that they cannot be treated within general dental practice.
Treatment Although the main stay of treatment in the past for severely anxious/phobic patients has been intravenous sedation, there is evidence that many patients do not require this and may be managed in other ways, for example using CBT.
Patients who are referred to the specialist service for anxious/phobic adult dental patients may be managed using one or more of the following: CBT, inhalation sedation, intravenous sedation, hypnotherapy and acupuncture.
In line with national guidance (A Conscious Decision, Department of Health 2000), less invasive techniques will be attempted before progressing on to more invasive procedures. Patients will initially be triaged by telephone to assess the urgency of their treatment need and their suitability for dental nurse-led CBT. Patients will normally undertake a course of CBT before sedation is considered. If sedation is necessary, inhalation sedation will be considered and rejected before intravenous sedation is offered. It is therefore essential that the patient is not given any false hope that they are being referred for IV sedation.
Any referrals which are not made on the correct form, sent to the wrong address, or which do not meet the criteria will be returned to the referrer.
The service is only available for Sheffield residents. Residents from outside of Sheffield should be referred to their local service.
Notes on completion of referral form
Ask the patient the five questions on the Modified Dental Anxiety Scale Questionnaire (overleaf) and add up their score. Do not let the patient see the scoring system.
Check that the patient meets the following referral criteria:
The patient is 16 years or over.
The patient has expressed severe anxiety/phobia about dental treatment.
The patient’s anxiety/phobia has prevented them from accepting dental treatment.
The patient has scored 19 or above on the Modified Dental Anxiety Scale.
You have attempted to provide dental treatment on at least three occasions.
You can provide evidence of what you have already tried to do to help the patient with their dental anxiety/phobia.
You can provide evidence of what dental treatment/prevention you have already provided for the patient.
The patient has agreed to attend any appointments that are made or cancel them as early as possible.
The patient is ready to have their dental anxiety/phobia addressed.
The patient understands that they may be managed using a variety of techniques, which may include psychological therapies e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy.
The patient is willing to be contacted by telephone.
The referring dentist is willing to see the patient again following discharge from the specialist service.
Ensure that the patient agrees to be referred and understands that they may be managed using a variety of techniques, which may include psychological therapies e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy. Please note, this is not a referral for IV sedation. Also ensure that the patient understands that they will be triaged by telephone and that they must attend any appointments that are made or cancel them as early as possible.
Attach the patient’s Modified Dental Anxiety Scale Questionnaire to the referral form and send it to:
Please note that this is not an emergency dental service. If a patient needs IV sedation for a ‘one off unpleasant dental procedure’ e.g. surgical extraction of wisdom teeth or a biopsy but is not usually anxious/phobic about routine dental treatment, please refer them directly to the oral surgery department at Charles Clifford Dental Hospital using the referral form in Appendix 1 of the NHS Sheffield referral handbook.
Anxious/ Phobic Adult Dental Patient Referral Form Please complete in block capitals in black ink