Does the thought of going to the dentist make you squirm? You’re not alone, dental anxiety is a real thing that many people experience. It may have begun in childhood or as an adult. However it developed, it’s important to know there are ways of overcoming dental anxiety. Avoidance may seem like the best solution, but this can have terrible consequences for your oral health.
At Dental on York, we’re very experienced in treating patients who suffer from dental anxiety. We aim to make every dental visit as positive of an experience as it can be. In this article, we share five tips and tricks for overcoming dental anxiety.
What is dental anxiety?
Dental anxiety refers to the fear and stress that may be associated with going to the dentist. It’s a common occurrence experienced by 1 in 6 Australian adults and 1 in 10 children. Feeling anxious about going to the dentist can result in avoiding it. Unfortunately, this can have negative effects on our teeth. These effects include tooth discolouration, cavities and infections. Some of the signs and symptoms of dental anxiety include:
- Feeling hot and bothered
- A racing heartbeat
- Possible fainting or feeling lightheaded
- Panic attack
- Visible distress (such as crying)
- Physical and mental withdrawal
What are the common causes of dental anxiety?
Dental anxiety can be caused by a variety of things, but it is usually associated with fear. This fear may seem completely irrational, even to the person experiencing it, but it doesn’t stop the feeling of anxiety. These fears include:
- Fear of pain: Visiting the dentist isn’t always pleasant. It can be uncomfortable having loud tools in your mouth. Some people are afraid that the tools may cause them pain.
- Fear of needles: Being afraid of needles is very common. Sometimes they are required for certain dental work, usually when administering local anaesthetic. This can frighten some people.
- Fear of helplessness: It’s not nice to feel out of control and some people have a fear of this helpless feeling. It can be experienced at the dentist as you have to give up control and allow your dentist to help.
It’s important to note that the dentist is not really a scary place, though it may trigger feelings of fear and anxiety in some. Modern-day dentistry and dental technology make for the most comfortable dental experiences yet. And a good dentist will be trained to help soothe nervous patients requiring dental care.
Tips for overcoming dental anxiety
Luckily there are plenty of things you can do to help and improve your dental anxiety. Here are our top five tips and tricks:
Let your dentist know
Dentists are well aware of the presence of dental anxiety; they want to help. One of the best things you can do is to tell your dentist. Once your dentist is aware they can begin to help. Explaining each step before doing it can help you to feel at ease. They can reassure you throughout the entire process. Remember that your dentist is there to ensure you feel comfortable when attending your dental appointments.
Take regular breaks
Taking regular breaks prevents you from becoming overwhelmed. When everything is done at your pace, you remain in control. Discuss with your dentist a little signal you can do to indicate when you need a break (such as putting your arm up).
Don’t go alone
Taking a close friend or loved one to the dentist with you can make the world of difference. They can reassure you, hold your hand and offer soothing words. It feels less overwhelming when you’ve got someone by your side. They can also provide that little confidence boost you need to get you through the clinic’s doors.
Taking someone along with you is a great distraction. If it isn’t an option, don’t worry, there are plenty of other distraction methods. For example, you can listen to your favourite music or watch a funny TV show on your phone/iPad/dental chair TV.
Regulate your breathing
Many people experience a rapid heartbeat and intensified breathing when they feel anxious. Remember that this is normal. Practice regulating your breathing by gently inhaling through your nose and exhaling out your mouth. You can even download apps that guide you through the process. It’s amazing how much calmer and more relaxed you can feel just by slowing your breathing.
How Dental on York can help
At Dental on York, we are well aware that some patients experience dental anxiety. Our priority is helping you; we want all of our patients to have a comfortable experience at our Sydney dental clinic. If you experience dental anxiety, let us know when you call to book an appointment. Our friendly team is experienced in treating people with dental anxiety.