Do you have trouble sleeping the night before you see your dentist? Do you start worrying, feel anxious, or physically ill at the very thought of sitting on that dental chair? If you suffer from a fear of the dentist, you’re not alone. Up to 20% of the population avoids the dentist because of fear!
The good news is, you can overcome these feelings and enjoy the dental care you need. We’ve gathered 10 tips and tricks to help you get over dental anxieties.
What Causes Dental Phobia and Anxiety?
Understanding the root cause of your dental phobia (pardon the pun) is a good start to overcoming dental anxiety. Let’s confront some of these issues one at a time.
- Fear of pain. This common fear can come from a past experience that was painful, or is triggered by “dental horror stories” told by family and friends.
- Fear of injections or needles. Fear of needles is common. When needles need to be placed in the mouth, the fear can increase. Some people fear that anaesthesia simply won’t work!
- Fear of anaesthetic side effects. Some patients are afraid of the side effects associated with anaesthesia. They may be afraid of dizziness, nausea or oral numbness such as a “fat lip”. These side effects fade quickly, but they can leave a feeling of helplessness.
- Feelings of helplessness and loss of control. For some, lying in the dentist chair and being unable to see what’s going on in their mouth can create a sense of vulnerability.
- Embarrassment. Some patients may feel self-conscious about their teeth or possible mouth odours. When a dentist or hygienist is very close, it feels like an invasion of personal space.
Now that we’ve identified the causes of these fears, let’s talk about how to deal with them.
10 Tips To Overcome Your Anxiety
- Talk honestly with your dentist about anxiety. Once your dentist knows what your fears are, they will be able to help create a customised plan to manage your stress.
- Find a dentist who understands. If your dentist doesn’t listen to your fears or you feel that they don’t genuinely care about your needs, then find another dentist. You deserve to be treated with respect and understanding.
- Schedule your appointment for a stress-free time. If you’re a busy person, this can be difficult. Try to schedule your appointment for a day off or an afternoon where you won’t be worried about your workload or family responsibilities.
- Remember that modern dentistry has made many improvements. If you’re anxious about pain, remember that today’s modern dental procedures are virtually pain-free! Anaesthesia needles have also become much thinner than they used to be; plus we always use a topical gel to numb the skin prior to injections.
- Ask your dentist to explain every part of the procedure. If you feel helpless in the dental chair, it may ease your mind to know what’s going on at all times. A thoughtful dentist can take the time to explain each step before the procedure and while its happening. Although some rather now know and in that case, also let your dentist know!
- Listen to your favourite music or audiobook during your appointment! We’ve prepared headphones for you at The Dental Room.
- Avoid caffeine, sugar and other anxiety-boosting foods prior to your appointment.
- Establish a hand signal, such as raising a hand or snapping, so you can alert your dentist to stop at any time. Use this signal when you feel uncomfortable or just need a moment to catch your breath.
- Make sure your mouth is as clean as possible before your appointment. If you are anxious about oral smells or the hygiene of your mouth, remember that your dentist is there to help you and not to judge you! Still, you may find that your anxiety is eased by brushing, flossing, scraping your tongue and using other aids such as mouthwash or minty gum prior to your appointment.
- Try sedation dentistry. At The Dental Room, we are able to prescribe you medications that help relief anxiety and get your dental treatment done without fuss.