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5 Strategies When Treating Patients With Mental Health Disorders

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, here are 5 strategies for treating patients with mental health disorders.

As the case of mental health disorders continues to climb in the United States among teens and adults, clinicians are wise to be prepared to treat oral health complications caused by anxiety and depression. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, here are 5 strategies for treating patients with mental health disorders.

1. BE SUPPORTIVE

Skipping dental visits, flossing and brushing in irregular intervals, is common for patients living with a mental illness. Patients with an anxiety disorder or depression often have unmet dental needs for various reasons, such as dental anxiety or a state of disinterest. Approaching patients in a nonjudgmental manner is essential to ensuring patients do not feel embarrassed for not maintaining oral health practices.

2. INDIVIDUALIZED CARE

Dental hygienists can suggest self-care strategies to help patients maintain their oral hygiene once a risk assessment is completed. You can then recommend the most valuable interventions to help patients maintain optimal oral health.

3. STAY POSITIVE

Educating patients about good oral health practices should be delivered with a positive attitude. Remind patients of the importance of flossing and brushing twice a day without using too many technical terms, or describing the worst-case scenario if oral hygiene is not maintained.

4. RELAXATION TECHNIQUES

Patients with a mental health illness, such as anxiety, may benefit from the practice of stress-reduction strategies. Help make the appointment more comfortable for these patients by leading them through deep breathing exercises. Offering tools such as music, headphones or other tools may also make patients more comfortable when receiving treatment.

5. KNOW YOUR ROLE

The dental team is often the first to observe mental health conditions. For this reason, understand your role on a patient’s multidisciplinary team. For resources, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness or follow the hashtag #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth2019

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