How To Overcome Your Fear Of The Dentist

Anxious about your visit to the dentist? You’re not alone. For many people, the thought of someone in a mask hovering over them, sticking shiny instruments in their mouths is a terrifying thought. Some studies have shown that upwards of 75% of individuals are at least a  little bit fearful of the dentist. However, not all fear is created equal. Some individuals may feel nervous, anxious or apprehensive before visiting the dentist, others may experience a crippling fear, known as dentophobia. To explore this topic further, our team at Signal Hill Dental Centre has a few tips to offer to ease your nerves if you experience dental anxiety. For severe cases of dentophobia, it is best to consult with your dentist and/or doctor.

Dental anxiety can result in unnecessary stress and worry, as well as avoidance of necessary treatment. It is important to find ways to cope with these anxious thoughts as visiting the dentist is necessary to ensure your oral health.

Where does the anxiety come from?

Most people aren’t born with dental anxiety. Being anxious about visiting the dentist is often learned, either from personal experience or external factors. The loss of control in a dental environment scares certain individuals. Dental horror stories can also affect how individuals view the dentist.

Most dental visits are not painful, however, many individuals are anxious about just being examined. The most common things people dislike about the dentist include the freezing needle, noise of the drill, fear of pain (like a blast of cold air on a sensitive tooth), or specific events that have occurred in a previous visit.

Dental anxiety vs. dental phobia?

There isn’t a clear distinction between dental anxiety and dental phobia. Dental phobia, or dentophobia is basically the extreme version of dental anxiety and is a much more serious of a condition. Some signs that you have a dental phobia include: feeling tense or having trouble sleeping the night before your dental appointment, experiencing intense feelings of nervousness while in the waiting room, feeling the need to cry when you think about visiting the dentist, the thought of the dentist making you physically ill, or you panic or have trouble breathing when instruments are placed in your mouth while at the dentist. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is best to consult with your doctor and/or your dentist  in a relaxed and non-procedure environment to explore your options.

What can I do about dental anxiety?

It is possible for all individuals to reduce their anxiety levels and learn how to have a calm experience at the dentist. If you’ve had  a bad experience at the dentist, the only way to forget about it, is to counteract it with positive experiences. And yes, that means going to the dentist.

Communicate with your dental professionals. Make sure that they are aware of your dental anxiety so that they can be cautious and talk you through each and every step of the process.  Think of your dental professionals as your teammates. They are helping you get through your appointment comfortably, and a rooting for the same positive outcome as you are.

Another option is sedation dentistry. Sedation dentistry is a medical procedure in which doctors give sedation orally or through syringes to patients, in order to help them relax. If you’d like more information on sedation dentistry, our team at Signal Hill Dental Centre would be happy to answer your questions.

Lastly, it’s important to keep a positive attitude. Patients who are willing to work on their dental anxiety are the ones most likely to be successful in ditching them.

Next time you have a date with the drill, remember these simple tips and you’ll likely to have a much more positive experience at the dentist.