November 30, 2020

Overcoming dental anxiety

Does the thought of going to a dentist make you nervous? You are not alone.

Fear of dentists is one of the most common fears people have. For some, it’s crippling. The buzz of a dental drill sends them running for the nearest exit. 

This anxiety commonly gets in the way of people scheduling a dental check-up or even turning up for their appointment. Their condition then worsens, only adding to the pressure of a visit to the dentist.

Here are a few tips to help you break this vicious cycle:

Find the right dentist

Believe it or not, there are dentists who specialise in treating people with anxiety. 

These dentists go the extra mile in eliminating environmental triggers, such as not showcasing before-after pictures that depict the horrors of tooth decay and gum disease. Most play calming music, while some have installed sound-proof doors to limit other patients from hearing the sound of the drill. 

A dental clinic devoid of these common anxiety cues can help a great deal.

Talk to your dentist!

Your dentist can’t help you if you don’t talk to them.

Most dentists have a “safe signal” that patients can use to stop the procedure at any point. So, be open about your fears and anxiety with your dentist. 

Better yet, let them know when you schedule an appointment. Chances are they might book you in with someone who specialises in similar patients, or find you a less busy time. 

Remember why you’re there

Whenever you start to feel overcome by anxiety, remind yourself that you’re doing this because you need help, and to stop things going from bad to really bad. 

Bring a buddy

More often than not, the anticipation of pain makes you more anxious than the actual pain. 

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the ambient sights and sounds while you’re in the waiting room. So, bring along a friend, partner, or relative who can talk to you and help you stay calm. 

Don’t be shy to bring your mum; we know, in all likelihood she scheduled the appointment :)

Skip coffee

If you can’t start your day without that ‘caffeine hit’, you’re going to hate us for this one. 

The much sought-after sense of alertness offered by a good brew is a welcome feeling on most days, but it is usually accompanied by a spike in anxiety. So, that morning cuppa may not be the best idea before your appointment. 

Try to skip your coffee, or replace it with some calming herbal tea.

Try some relaxation techniques

Muscle tension is one of the ways our body reacts to fear and anxiety, so why not try some relaxation techniques before your appointment. 

Many people swear by controlled breathing - taking a big breath, holding it, and letting it out slowly, like a leaky tire. This slows your heartbeat and relaxes your muscles. 

Finally, let the music play!

Even if your mind tells you to relax, your body might not listen. 

If the sound of the drill or the suction pump are your triggers, bring along some of your favourite music to distract you. If you happen to have noise-cancelling headphones, definitely bring them too! 

Overcoming fear and anxiety is an ongoing process, which does not happen overnight. But we hope these simple techniques will be the boost you need.

This article is intended to promote understanding and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have.

Oral Health and Overall Health