Going to the dentist can be a daunting experience for some people. Surveys have shown that dental fear is common in Australia, with up to 18.8% of people reporting feelings of anxiety or stress when visiting the dentist. For many people, these fears are mild and manageable.
However, for some, dental fear can be so severe that it prevents them from seeking necessary dental care. This can lead to serious oral health problems like tooth decay and gum disease.
Understanding how to get over a fear of the dentist can help you get the oral health care you need. You can use numerous strategies to manage dental anxiety, from deep breathing to IV sedation.
What Causes Dental fear?
For decades, researchers have examined the causes of dental fear and anxiety (DFA) and have identified several reasons why patients avoid routine healthcare at the dentist.
- Past dental trauma and associated pain are among the most common reasons for fearing the dentist.
- Some people have a phobia of needles, especially when used in the mouth, or are afraid the anaesthetic won’t work, and the procedure will be painful.
- Some patients are hypersensitive to noise and vibrations from dental handpieces, which can trigger feelings of dental anxiety.
- Embarrassment or a fear of being judged for poor hygiene or damaged teeth prevents some people from seeking the care they need.
- Some patients may dislike having their personal space invaded or having dental instruments placed into their mouths, especially if they have a sensitive gag reflex.
- Dental anxiety can also be caused by a feeling of not knowing what is happening and losing control.
How to Get Over Fear of the Dentist: Plan a Non-Dental Visit
Attending an initial, non-treatment consultation will allow you to familiarise yourself with the practice. You can also ask the dentist to explain any treatments in-depth and show you the tools and instruments they’ll use during the procedure. Feeling in control can help alleviate dental fear for many people.
Your dentist should also get to know you as a patient and understand your individual needs. This is important as it ensures that you receive the best possible care.
How to Get Over Fear of the Dentist: Listen to Music or Watch a Show
Distractions such as listening to music or watching a show can be an excellent way to take your mind off the procedure and reduce feelings of dental anxiety. You can also use noise-cancelling earbuds to eliminate the sounds of dental tools and handpieces, which can contribute to dental anxiety.
Sydney Dental Group provides TVs at our practice, but you could also use a smartphone or tablet.
How to Get Over Fear of the Dentist: Practice Deep Breathing or Meditation Techniques
When it comes to managing dental anxiety, deep breathing and meditation can be effective tools to encourage relaxation and focus. When deep breathing, it is important to breathe from the diaphragm rather than the chest. This means inhaling deeply and slowly, allowing the stomach to expand. Once the lungs are full, exhale slowly and evenly.
For meditation, there are a few different techniques you can use:
- Focused meditation involves focusing on a single point, such as a mantra or an object.
- Transcendental meditation involves repeating a mantra throughout the session.
- Guided meditation involves following along with a pre-recorded audio track.
When at the dentist, either technique can be used in the dental chair. Simply close your eyes and focus on your breath or your mantra.
How to Get Over Fear of the Dentist: Request Dental Sedation
At Sydney Dental Group, we understand that some patients may feel anxious about undergoing dental treatment. That’s why we offer twilight sedation, also known as IV sedation.
With IV sedation, you will be awake but relaxed during your procedure. IV sedation is safe and effective and can help ease dental fear. If you think IV sedation may be right for you, please let us know when you schedule your appointment.
For extreme dental phobia, we also offer general anaesthesia. We have admission rights at several certified dental hospitals throughout Sydney, and we work with specialist anaesthesiologists who will administer the anaesthetic and monitor your vital signs while your dental surgeon performs the treatment.
How to Get Over Fear of the Dentist: Ask a Loved One to Accompany You
For many people, one of the best ways to overcome dental anxiety is to ask a loved one to accompany them to their appointment. Bringing along a trusted friend or family member can help you feel more relaxed and comfortable during your treatment.
They can provide moral support and reassure you throughout the procedure.
Get the Dental Care You Need at Sydney Dental Group
We offer a full range of dental services to meet your needs. Whether you’re looking for a routine cleaning or more complex dental work, our compassionate and experienced dental team puts your comfort, oral health and smile goals first.
We understand that many people have busy schedules, so we offer convenient Saturday appointments, so you can book your dental care on a less stressful day and feel more relaxed. Don’t let dental anxiety prevent you from having a healthy and beautiful smile. Visit Sydney Dental Group and get the care you need.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
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