General Dentistry

Top Tips to Beat Dental Anxiety

Published on 13/03/2024

Dental anxiety is an incredibly common condition that impacts around 3% of all patients. Your phobia could be something as simple as feeling a little uncomfortable during your visit, to becoming so scared that you avoid the dentist entirely.

There are many reasons you might be afraid of the dentist. For some people, it’s a bad previous experience that leaves them feeling nervous to return. For others, it’s a fear of the sights, sounds or smells associated with the dentist. 

Whatever the reason for your dental phobia, there are ways to overcome this so that you can visit the dentist when you need to without fear. If you are a parent, overcoming your own dental phobia can also help you to raise your children to be confident at the dentist. These are our tips for understanding and overcoming your dental anxiety.

Step one: Determine what causes your anxiety

Step one: Determine what causes your anxiety

The first step for beating your dental anxiety is to understand the cause. When you know the cause, it becomes much easier to address the issue head on. For example, if you have dental anxiety because it has been so long since your last visit, simply talking to your dentist about this can often put you at ease.

If you are scared because you don’t like not knowing what is going on, you can ask your dentist to explain things to you. And if knowing what is going on is the cause of your anxiety, your dentist might recommend that you wear headphones during any procedures so you can distract yourself.

Step two: Speak to your dentist

Step two: Speak to your dentist

If you are feeling any anxiety about your visit, your dentist can help to put you at ease. In fact, all of the staff in the practice can help to put you at ease. From the reception staff to the dental nurses, everyone is united in helping to make trips to the dentist stress free for everyone.

It’s in our best interests to ensure you are relaxed and comfortable during the treatment, as a relaxed patient is far easier to treat. It makes the dentist’s job much easier if their patient is happy and calm in the chair.

Your dentist should listen to your concerns and help to put your mind at ease. They can also come up with a signalling system so you can let them know if you need to stop and have a break. You can also decide if you would like to be kept in the loop about what is going on, or if you would like to be able to distract yourself and think about anything else.

Step three: Find a coping mechanism that works for you

Step three: Find a coping mechanism that works for you

There are lots of different coping mechanisms that can help you to manage your phobia so that you can get through an essential dental visit. This could include:

  • Meditation. Learning how to control your thoughts around an issue can help you to slow down your heart rate and stop the panic response that comes when you feel threatened.

  • Deep breathing. Like meditation, deep breathing exercises can help you to feel more in control. When you breathe deeply, your heart slows down and this helps to stop the sensation of panic.

  • Distraction. Some people need a little more help to control their anxiety symptoms, and distraction is the best way to do this. Listening to music during your appointment can help you to stop thinking about what your dentist is doing and focus on something else.

  • Progressive muscle relaxation. This is another distraction technique that works very well. You move down your body and relax your muscles one by one. This is another form of meditation that can help to distract you from what is happening.

Step four: Explore sedation

Step four: Explore sedation

If you are struggling to get past your dental phobia but you know that you need a procedure, sedation could be a good option. Oral conscious sedation is a popular way to help even the most nervous patients to relax during treatment. You will still be awake and aware, but you will feel a little drowsy and won’t be as focused on what is happening. This option can also help to make long procedures feel much shorter. And finally, you won’t retain memories of the treatment, so it won’t continue to contribute to your dental phobia.

Closing thoughts

Getting over a fear of the dentist might not always be simple, but it is certainly worthwhile. This will allow you to visit the dentist with confidence and put your oral health first. A phobia of the dentist could lead you to ignore dental problems until they are much worse, or to avoid treatment altogether. This is why we always work with patients to help them to overcome their fear at last. If you’re scared of the dentist and would like to be rid of this fear, get in touch with our team today!