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ArticlesTips and Advice

How to deal with dental anxiety

By July 15, 2019

Whether it’s your regular dental checkup, a mouth cleaning, or getting fitted for braces visiting your orthodontist or dentist can be super difficult if you or your child has dental anxiety.

What is dental anxiety?

Dental anxiety is common and something you shouldn’t feel ashamed about it. People can still feel this way even if they have only had great experiences at the dentist. Despite this, it’s important to remember that anxiety is a result of fearing a future event or worrying about something bad occurring.

Dental anxiety is often triggered by:

  • Needles,
  • The drill,
  • Pain,
  • Sedation, and
  • Embarrassment (such as poor dental hygiene or bad breath).

The importance of seeing the right dentist

If you have dental anxiety, picking the right dentist can make a dramatic difference to your appointment. Find a dentist who listens and acknowledges your fears, as well as catering to your needs where possible. If you are unhappy with your current dentist, seek recommendations from friends and family. On the other hand, you can see someone who practices in natural dentistry, this combines modern dental techniques and natural materials for your treatment.

If your kids experience dental anxiety, it may be best to seek out a pediatric dentist. Alternatively, you can find a clinic who specialises in dentistry for children. Don’t let your child’s fear of the dentist deter you from organising their regular checkups. Dentist visits are extremely important in their early years; these sessions are essential for treating early tooth decay or other oral hygiene issues.

Tips for overcoming dental anxiety

Recognise your fears

To start working towards overcoming your fear, you must first be able to recognise what causes your dental anxiety. Write your fear down, talk about it with friends or family, and finally address it with your dentist.

Speaking with your dentist about these fears allows them to work with you to make your appointments as smooth and calming as possible. For example, some dentists create signals you can make during your appointment if you want to take a break or stop the treatment.

Bring a friend along

Having a close friend or family member join you during your appointments can provide an extra layer of comfort and support. If you are anxious about an upcoming procedure, talk to your dentist and see if your loved one can keep you company or be nearby to help you remain calm.

Practice relaxation techniques

Become familiar with relaxation and breathing techniques; this will give you a distraction and help keep you relaxed. Techniques may include:

  • Gently breathing in, holding your breath, and then releasing it slowly.
  • Squeezing or tensing specific muscles before slowly releasing them.
  • Listening to music.
  • Playing with a stress ball.
  • Counting to yourself or reciting rhymes or poems in your head.

Seek professional help

If your dental anxiety is hindering your ability to see your dentist or orthodontist, you may need to seek professional help from a psychologist. These accredited professionals specialise in addressing and assisting patients when it comes to overcoming phobias; this includes dental anxiety.

Reward yourself

When you are working towards overcoming your fear, remember to celebrate your progress after completing each milestone. For example, after your treatment or appointment reward yourself, this may include visiting your favourite clothing store, movie theatre, or weekend getaway. Rewarding yourself will help you associate positive experiences and outcomes with dental appointments.

The Ethos difference

The team at Ethos Orthodontics understand that visiting the clinic for the first time can be stressful and little intimidating — especially if you experience dental anxiety. As a result, our team works hard to put your mind at ease and help you feel relaxed from the moment you step through our door until the moment you walk out after your last check-up.

To help ease you into your first appointment, find out what you can expect during a visit. If you have more questions or would like to chat with our team about how we can accommodate your anxiety, please contact us or phone (07) 3349 5266.