Top 5 Tips for Over­com­ing Den­tal Anx­i­ety and Fear

Den­tal pho­bias are more com­mon than you might think. There are many rea­sons that indi­vid­u­als can devel­op a fear of the den­tist, and not all of them have any­thing to do with fear of den­tal drills or nee­dles as you might expect.

Phobias are incredibly complex and might have nothing to do with the actual event. For example, if you are anxious about other areas of your life, you might find that trips to the dentist could become more stressful and this could develop into a phobia.

A phobia of the dentist could quickly become more problematic as it might lead you to avoid treatment. This is why it is vital to get on top of your phobia as soon as you notice it. Thankfully, your dentist can help you tackle this fear and get past it so that you can take care of your oral health.

Top 5 tips for overcoming dental anxiety

If you’re ready to take control of your dental phobia, try the following tried and tested tips. We have helped many patients to overcome their dental fears so that their health doesn’t suffer.

1. Understand your fear

Understanding where your fear originated can help you to overcome it. Think about when you first started to feel afraid of the dentist and if there was a particular event that triggered your fear.

Common sources of dental phobia include things like:

  • A previous bad experience at the dentist, such as a painful procedure

  • A traumatic event that resulted in injury to your jaw or face

  • An experience with a rude dentist that may have made you feel judged

  • Poor recovery after a dental procedure

  • A procedure that has gone wrong and required follow-up treatment

  • Anxiety or depression that is seemingly not linked to your dental phobia

Once you know the cause, you can work with your dentist to try to overcome this fear. It’s important to remember that there is nothing to be afraid of when you visit the dentist. Everyone on the dental team is there to help you to overcome your fear so that you can access dental care when you need it.

2. Speak to your dentist

The next step in addressing your dental phobia is to talk to your dentist. We know that this step might be very scary, but it can really help you to address your fears. Start by calling our reception team and letting them know about your situation. They can arrange an informal appointment where you don’t even have to sit in the dentist’s chair. This kind of gradual immersion therapy can help you to tackle your fears head on.

3. Book a hygienist appointment

If you’re not ready to see a dentist yet but you’d like to do something positive for your oral health, consider visiting our dental hygiene team. This is a common way that nervous patients find their way back to the dentist’s chair.

The dental hygienist is less daunting and there are no needles or drills in sight. Treat it like a relaxing spa appointment where you can get used to someone examining your teeth and giving them a deep cleaning without the fear that you might face any kind of pain or discomfort.

4. Try distractions

If you can make it to the dentist’s chair, perhaps all you need is a little distraction to get through your appointment. You could bring a friend or family member with you to help keep the mood light. This can also help if your fear originates from a previous situation where a dentist has made you feel judged or shamed.

Another popular technique is to wear headphones and listen to relaxing music during your appointment. This is ideal for shorter procedures such as a dental filling or replacing a broken crown.

If you prefer to know what is going on, you can ask your dentist to describe what they are doing to help keep you informed. This can help to avoid unexpected sensations that you might be afraid of. You can also agree on a hand signal that means you would like to stop. This will help you to feel empowered and in control of your treatment.

5. Ask for oral conscious sedation

If you need a longer procedure but your dental phobia is preventing you from feeling confident enough to book this, speak to your dentist about oral conscious sedation. This is a pill that you take before your appointment that will help you to relax without putting you to sleep.

It’s ideal for long procedures as you will be completely relaxed and also won’t remember details of the procedure, so you don’t have to worry about your phobia getting worse. While this might not be right for everyone, it can help some patients to overcome their phobias and tackle their dental issues once and for all.