Few people experience excitement when it’s time for a visit to the dentist, but there are groups of people who truly experience excruciating fear or anxiety when faced with a dental visit. This is something that can lead to complications with both your oral and overall health. it is crucial to learn how to overcome dental anxiety or fear. Continue reading to learn more.
What Causes Dental Fear and Anxiety?
Fear or anxiety caused by a visit to the dentist may be caused by a number of reasons, including:
- A past negative or traumatic experience with dental treatment (usually experienced during childhood)
- A general fear of pain
- Fear of needles/injections
- General discomfort with the invasive nature of dentistry/feeling like personal space has been invaded
- Embarrassment about the current state of your oral health
- Feeling helpless or fearing the loss of control while in the dental chair
- Misconceptions about dental treatment portrayed in movies and television
- Post-traumatic stress due to past sexual or domestic abuse
The root cause of dental anxiety or fear varies from person to person, depending upon their personal situation and past experiences.
Coping and Overcoming Dental Fear and Anxiety
Overcoming your dental anxiety or fear may at first seem like no small feat, but with continuous effort on your part accompanied by the help of an experienced and gentle dental professional, it is possible to cope with and eventually overcome your fear of the dentist.
To begin your journey towards more comfortable and enjoyable dental visits, it’s crucial to choose a dentist that you know you can trust to be gentle, informative, respectful, and transparent with you about your treatment.
Conducting online research, reading reviews written by existing patients, and asking trusted friends or family members about their preferred dentist are all excellent ways to find the dentist that is right for you.
Below are some additional ways to work on overcoming your fear of the dentist:
- If possible, bring a close friend or family member along to accompany you during your visit. Having a familiar face present in the room with you is likely to help ease your worries. Always be sure to check with your dentist to ensure that this will be okay prior to your visit (most dentists now place a restriction on guests as a result of COVID-19).
- Establish a visual cue that you can give them to alert them that you are feeling uncomfortable, or that you need a break. Most dentists will ask that you simply raise your hand to get their attention and request that they stop working to speak with you. Establishing this common ground during your visit is a great way to reinforce your trust in the fact that your dentist is there to support you throughout your treatment.
- Bring a pair of headphones and a device to listen to music during your visit. Most dental professionals have no problem with their patients listening to music while they are in the chair; in most cases, they actually encourage it. Listening to your favourite tunes can help substantially in calming you and putting your mind at ease.
- Relaxation techniques--such as controlled breathing--can be extremely beneficial. Take in a deep breath of air, take a moment to hold it in, and then release it slowly.
Openly discuss your fears and worries with your dentist; if they are unaware that you are feeling uncomfortable during your visits, they will not be able to help you overcome your fear.
Be sure to tell your dentist exactly what troubles you during your visits as this will help them develop a personalised approach to your treatment that will make you feel more comfortable.
For more information about how we can help you manage your dental anxiety, or to make an appointment, give us a call on 02 8319 5557.