Overcoming dental phobias

Posted on 7 August 2018

Have you ever had that feeling when you walk into a dental surgery… Sweaty palms, tense muscles, heart racing, perhaps even full-blown anxiety attacks? Well, you are most certainly not alone. It can be very daunting to have a dental health professional in your personal space. Often, dental phobias are associated with a bad past experience or even relaying the bad experiences of our parents, loved ones and friends.

Find the cause

The first thing you need to know is that it’s ok to feel scared, or anxious or however you feel about visiting the Dentist. The next thing you need to know is that there are measures you can take to make the experience easier and more comfortable. With the right approach, and the right dental practitioner, you may even reach a point when you no longer dread your next dental visit.

To help overcome dental phobias, it can be helpful to consider what might be the cause. What is it that makes you feel uneasy?

  • Is it the sterile smell?
  • The cold, clinical environment?
  • The sounds?
  • The fear of pain?
  • A strong gag reflex?
  • A fear of the unknown?
  • Do you feel more anxious with a male or female team?

Mitigate your anxiety

Once you know some of your triggers, you’re half way to feeling better already.
Some of the many ways you can address these phobias include:

Aromatherapy: choose a clinic that doesn’t smell like disinfectant. Smells can be powerful triggers for tension and anxiety in your mind and body.

Practice environment: Find a practice that creates a warm, inviting environment – a place of comfort not fear. A friendly welcome can change your mindset from them moment you walk in, making you feel more at home.

Herbal tea: Sip on chamomile tea prior to your appointment to help you relax and calm your nerves.

Sound:Using noise cancelling headphones to eliminate dental noises can be a highly effective way to calm your nerves. At The Smile Clinique you can take your mind off your treatment by choosing from listening to music, or watching your favourite TV shows and movies on Netflix.

Take a deep breath: Deep breathing exercises can help to slow the heart rate, relax your body and even combat a strong gag reflex!

Choose a clinician you can trust: To feel comfortable in the chair, it’s vitally important for a patient and Dentist to form a strong bond and great trust.

Pain relief: To eliminate fear from pain, allow your Dentist to administer pain relief (like anaesthetic) as required. And if post-operative pain relief is advised, take it on board. It could be very beneficial for a better experience both in and out of the dental chair.

Communication is key! Communicate with your Dentist and their team, and let them know if you have any particular fears or anxieties, or if even you are feeling uncomfortable for the first time. Although some Dental teams are very good at reading body language, it’s still important to communicate any discomfort you may be feeling. Generally all you have to do is raise your hand so your Dentist can remove any instruments from your mouth. This will give you the opportunity to either speak or write down any concerns or discomforts that you may have. Help your Dentist to help make you comfortable.

If nothing above seems to work, you may want to consider taking oral sedatives prescribed by your Dentist prior to undergoing dental treatment. Or you may prefer to try sedation dentistry, where an Anaesthetist comes to the dental surgery to put you under intravenous sedation so that you can be partially asleep during your treatment.

Even if sedation is the best option for you to start with, you might find that over time, with the right techniques and dental team supporting you, you may no longer require the assistance of sedation to calm your nerves.

At The Smile Clinique we have a lot of experience working with patients who suffer from fear and anxiety. We take the time that our patients need to feel comfortable with our team and the treatments we perform. Click here to talk to our friendly team today.

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