dental news for dentists from the best minds in dentistry today header image 2

Listen to Patients Who Feel Lightheaded in the Dental Chair

January 21st, 2009 · No Comments

fainting at the dentist

If you have ever had a patient complain of feeling lightheaded, you’re not alone. According to a study (AGD May/June 2008), this complaint is the most common emergency occurrence at the dentist’s office. About 3.5% of people suffer from vasovagal syncope. It can lead to loss of consciousness.

People experience this condition as a result of stress, anxiety, fatigue, pain, or at the sight of blood. Vasovagal syncope can begin with dizziness, whitening of the face, heart palpitations, a heated sensation, cold and clammy sweating, nausea, vision changes, hyperventilation, and lightheadedness. defines vasovagal syncope as “…the most common cause of fainting… The trigger results in a sudden drop in your heart rate and blood pressure, which reduces blood flow to your brain and causes you to briefly lose consciousness.” Blood vessels in the legs open, so blood accumulates in the legs, reducing blood to the brain. Thus, a person may faint. The definition continues to tell us that the condition is “…usually harmless and requires no treatment,” but that a physician might recommend testing for heart conditions or other health issues that contribute to fainting.

To reduce a patient’s potential for experiencing vasovagal syncope in your office, discuss the patient’s concerns, fears, and past problems at the first dental visit. Answer questions and make the patient feel confident and safe in your care. Inform (or remind) your team of the condition and its symptoms so that they can handle the situation professionally should it arise in your office.


Academy of General Dentistry (2008, November 25). Lightheadedness At The Dentist Could Prove Serious. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January; AGD Press Release at; Mayo Clinic

Tags: Clinical

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment