Overcoming Dental Anxiety
Overcoming dental anxiety is something many people will struggle with in their lifetime. In fact, some research suggests up to 16% of adult Australians report ‘high fear’ of going to the dentist. Here are some common ways to soothe dental anxiety the next time you find yourself in the chair!
Identify your fears
Mapping out your fears about dental work can have a calming effect. Once you understand what you are afraid of it’s easier to pinpoint the activity that will calm your nerves. Common dental anxieties have different solutions, and what works for one fear may not work for another:
- Fear of the cost – consider asking your dentist for a full treatment estimate before your appointment so you won’t be surprised.
- Fear of needles – talk to your GP about mild sedatives.
- Fear of sedation – talk to your dentist about conscious pain management.
- Fear of embarrassment – consider speaking with your dentist before you commence treatment about your dental history. Your dentist should never make you feel upset or embarrassed about the state of your mouth – they see dental decline every day!
When you think of the dentist, you might think of pain – so the most obvious solution to dental anxiety is pain minimisation. Local and general anaesthetics are more highly accessible these days and most won’t break the bank. Nitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas) or methoxyflurane (also known as the ‘green whistle’) are two of the most common ways to mitigate dental pain and soothe worried patients.
Taking mild sedatives before a trip to the dentist can calm you down considerably. Talk to your GP about safe, low-level sedatives that mitigate anxiety and slow your nervous system. Be mindful that you may experience drowsiness, so you will need to have a companion drive you to your appointment if you opt for this.
Natural, cost-free & non-medical soothing
Not all dental anxiety relief methods involve medication and treatment extras. Simple coping mechanisms like taking a friend to the dentist or practising mindfulness, meditation and breathing techniques can be surprisingly effective. Distractions are also an excellent way to manage fear. Listening to music, podcasts or audiobooks will keep the mind occupied and muffle the sound of dental drilling, while bringing a stress ball can refocus physical anxiety and tension away from the jaw.
Open communication and comfort
Finding a friendly dentist who is open to communication is the key to a good dental experience. Communicating your fears and anxieties to the dentist can really ease your mind, and some dentists even specialise in treating anxious patients or patients with dental phobias. An open and communicative dentist will appreciate your need to ease into treatment. For example, if you need to have multiple treatments, they should accommodate you by starting with the mild treatments first.
Dental health is incredibly important, so if none of these techniques allay your fears it might be time to see a psychologist. If you’re finding you can’t attend a dentist appointment and therefore can’t keep your dental health under control, professional counselling can assist you in coming to terms with what could be a phobia.
All the staff at TLC Dental want to see you comfortable in the dentist’s chair. We pride ourselves on our open and communicative nature, and we’re always happy to negotiate pain relief, distraction, accompaniment and relaxation techniques for our patients.
Call TLC Dental at our Winthrop, Bluegum, Mandurah, Chrisham or Meadow Springs locations to see how we can help you overcome your dental anxiety.