Feeling anxious or nervous about visiting the dentist is a very common problem and is experienced by adults and children alike. This condition is referred to by a number of different names, including dental phobia, odontophobia, dentophobia, and dental anxiety.
Whether your fear of the dentist is due to a previous unpleasant experience or simply anxiety at the prospect of dental treatment, knowing how to address and overcome dental phobia is important to ensure you receive the oral healthcare you need. At Apple Dental, our team understands the challenges caused by dental anxiety and we’re here to make your appointment as comfortable and stress-free as possible. We offer a number of options to help deal with your fear of the dentist – including sleep dentistry and happy gas – as well as advice and techniques to help you feel calm and relaxed throughout. If dental anxiety is putting you off coming into our practice, check out our ten tips to overcome your fear of the dentist so you can keep your teeth in the best condition.
Tip 1: Let us know you’re nervous
Dreading your trip to the dental chair? It’s a good idea to speak to us beforehand so we can help you find ways to manage your anxiety and enjoy a comfortable experience. Our staff can talk to you about the different options available for nervous patients, including sedation and relaxation techniques, so you can be prepared for your upcoming appointment.
Tip 2: Create a plan with your dentist
As well as informing our practice staff about your nerves, talking to your dentist can help you develop a strategy for coping with moments of anxiety. For example, your dentist can schedule regular breaks during your treatment, check in with you frequently, and suggest hand signals you can use if you need to stop or take a rest.
Tip 3: Music makes it better
A 2020 study by the British Dental Journal revealed that listening to music during minor oral surgery successfully reduced patient anxiety by a whopping 92%, as well as decreasing pain and discomfort. Why not bring your headphones along with you to your next appointment and drift away to some tunes while your dentist gets to work?
Tip 4: Go for ‘happy gas’
Happy gas (or laughing gas) is a quick, effective and very safe sedation method. Once inhaled, happy gas alleviates feelings of nervousness and fear, making you feel calm and lightheaded, with minimal to no pain. You’ll remain fully conscious and will be able to respond to your dentist’s questions or directions; once the mask is removed, the gas will wear off within minutes, leaving you with no after-effects.
Tip 5: Try sleep dentistry’
Also known as IV sedation or twilight dentistry, sleep dentistry uses an intravenous sedative to create a deeply relaxing and generally pain-free dental experience. This is a great option for lengthy or complex procedures, patients who are very nervous, or those who have a low pain threshold or pronounced gag reflex. While many dentists can administer laughing gas, only a small number of dentists are trained to administer IV sedation.
Tip 6: Skip your morning coffee
While you might not want to miss out on your morning cup of joe, caffeine is a stimulant, which means it can increase nervousness and anxiety. Avoiding caffeine on the morning of your dental appointment can help to keep these sensations under control, so you’re less likely to feel jittery and on edge during your appointment.
Tip 7: Arrive in good time
Running late for your appointment is likely to make your anxiety even worse. Rushing and panicking can elevate your heart rate and stress levels, adding to your existing nerves and causing you to feel even worse when you make it to the practice. By planning ahead and arriving a few minutes early, you’ll have some time to relax and calm yourself before going in for your appointment.
Tip 8: Knowledge is power, so ask away
Knowing exactly what’s involved in your treatment process can help to avoid unexpected surprises and ensure you’re prepared for the different stages your appointment might involve. Ask your dentist any questions you may have about your treatment – they can explain the details of your procedure and the work they’ll be doing, so you know what to expect at each step.
Tip 9: Practice mindfulness or deep breathing techniques
Mindfulness involves focusing your awareness on the present moment and has been proven to reduce stress and promote a sense of calm. Practising mindfulness techniques or deep, slow breathing exercises before and during your treatment can help you overcome feelings of anxiousness or fear, creating a more relaxing experience.
Tip 10: Choose a ‘low stress’ appointment time
If you have a stressful job or a busy mid-week schedule, trying to squeeze in your dental appointment during working hours or your lunch break may cause you to feel more anxious as you worry about other priorities. If possible, try to book your appointment at a time that’s likely to cause you the least amount of stress, such as a Saturday (we can arrange appointments between 9am and 4pm).
To chat to our friendly team about how to overcome dental anxiety and enjoy a relaxing experience during your next visit, get in touch with Apple Dental today.