Strategies to Combat Dental Anxiety


Many people feel nervous about going to the dentist. This feeling, known as dental anxiety, affects around 15% of the global population and ranges from mild anxiety to severe fear and panic. In fact, some people’s anxiety can make it almost impossible to visit a dentist, whether for regular checkups or emergency treatments. If left too long, however, this lack of dental care can impact your dental health and general well-being.

Realising that you’re not alone in your fear and that these feelings are common can give you some sense of relief. Even better is understanding why you feel this way and knowing how to manage your anxiety. This makes it much easier to attend regular checkups, keeping your teeth and gums healthy and your smile happy and bright.

Causes & Symptoms of Dental Anxiety

Your anxiety might be due to previous painful experiences or other people’s stories about visiting the dentist. It can even be a fear of needles or the sounds and smells of a dental clinic. Anxiety can also stem from a feeling of loss of control or embarrassment about the state of your teeth, making dental visits daunting.

Some people may feel nauseous, start sweating, or their pulse may increase; they may even have trouble sleeping before a dental appointment. So, how can you overcome this anxiety?

Gentle Ways to Handle Dental Anxiety

Whether you need a simple checkup or you’re considering life-changing implants, such as the popular all-on-4 in Kew, Victoria, it’s important to manage your fears so you don’t back out at the last minute.

Here are seven strategies that might help overcome your fears, transforming your dental visits into stress-free experiences.

  1. Identify the Trigger: Understanding what specifically causes your dental anxiety (e.g., fear of pain, bad experiences, sound of drills) can help you and your dentist create a more tailored approach to managing your fears.
  2. Talk to Your Dentist: Open communication about your fears allows your dentist to adjust the treatment plan accordingly. They can explain each step of the procedure and proceed at a pace that makes you more comfortable.
  3. Use Relaxation Techniques: Techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery can help calm your nerves before and during your dental visit.
  4. Find Your Perfect Dentist: Some dentists are particularly skilled at dealing with anxious patients, using gentle approaches and creating a calming office environment that can ease your fears.
  5. Start with a Simple Check-Up: If you’re very anxious, begin with a simple check-up or cleaning before progressing to more involved treatments. This can help you build trust with your dentist and gradually acclimate to the dental setting.
  6. Distract Yourself with Music: Bringing headphones and listening to your favourite music or an audiobook can help distract you from the procedure and reduce anxiety.
  7. Ask About Sedation: Discuss sedation options with your dentist. From mild sedatives that relax you to more substantial options that can make you sleepy or completely unaware, sedation can help manage your anxiety during more intense procedures.

Long-Term Strategies for Dental Visits

Using these techniques to overcome your anxiety can help you become much more comfortable visiting the dentist. Remember, looking after your dental health is good for your teeth and gums and improves your overall well-being. So, talk to your dentist, work on reducing your anxiety, and look forward to a brighter smile!

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