Being afraid to visit the dentist is one of the most common fears out there. Around 5% of the population avoid the dentist due to a severe dental phobia, while the rest of us are likely anxious or afraid of the dentist due to negative childhood experiences or the sterile environment. Quite often, putting off dentist visits due to this fear will actually have you feeling more anxious when you do end up going!
Some of the most common fears include being afraid of needles, drills, pain and sedation, or being embarrassed about one’s dental hygiene.
So how can you manage your fear of going to the dentist? Here are our top tips for anxious patients:
Tell your dentist about your fears
By telling your dentist about your anxieties or fears, they’ll be able to take greater care when working on you. They may also talk you through exactly what’s being done to your teeth, helping eliminate the fear of the unknown that you may be feeling. Another great idea is to empower yourself by agreeing on certain hand signals with the dentist before hand, so that you can let them know when you are uncomfortable or wish to take a break.
Choose a low-stress appointment time
There’s nothing worse than lying on the dentist’s chair, worrying about making it to your kids’ school in time to pick them up, or not being too late to work. To take any unnecessary stress out of the equation, try to book your appointment at a time where it won’t clash with any other plans.
Practice breathing techniques
One of the best ways of calming the mind is to focus on breathing deeply and intentionally. This increases the supply of oxygen to the brain, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system to create a sense of calm.
These days, many dental clinics are equipped with entertainment options for patients to take their mind off things. You may even be able to have earphones in to listen to your own music and podcasts.
In cases of extreme anxiety or phobias, dental sedation may be available. There are a number of different ways this may be administered depending on what’s best for you. Speak to your dentist for their recommendations on managing your fears.