Dental Anxiety & Phobias: Helpful Tips for Common Fears

Dental check-up scale clean

Do you ever put off the dentist because the idea makes you too uncomfortable or anxious? Does the thought of the dentist bring back bad memories? Or perhaps you hate the thought of needles or drills in your mouth.

Dental anxiety and phobias are surprisingly common. But fortunately, there’s a lot we can do – especially with good communication – and where necessary, a touch of medication.

People have discomfort or downright anxiety about the dentist for several reasons. And, no one reason is more important than the other. Anxiety is anxiety; it merely needs to be understood and addressed with care and consideration. Common anxieties include:

  • fear of needles
  • past memories of a frightening dental experience
  • sensitive teeth or dental pain
  • generalised anxiety disorder
  • embarrassment over bad teeth
  • fear of authority figures
  • history of abuse

Depending on the type of anxiety you have, there are plenty of things we can do. Here are a few tips to help you.

1. Choose the right dentist

Choose a dentist you feel comfortable with – someone you think you can communicate and be honest with. Likewise, you should feel that they are communicative and honest with you.

The gender of your dentist may also be an issue. If you would prefer either a male or female dentist, speak up and ask for them when you’re booking your appointment. There is no judgement here; it’s about what feels best for you. At Marketplace Dental, we have both male and female dentists available – and we’re happy to say – all of them are friendly and empathetic!

relaxation to beat dental anxiety

2. Alleviate your fear of needles & drills

A fear of dental needles and drills is common. However, these days, dental equipment is finer, quieter and gentle. But if you have any concerns around such equipment, please let us know.

Keep in mind, you will be given a local anaesthetic before any drilling so you won’t experience any pain.  

However, there will still be some slight vibration and pressure. If this concerns you, we can give you a light sedative or laughing gas to put you at ease. You can also listen to music or watch something  on the tv screen in front of you or on your phone.

Happy gas can be used for many reasons. It is an ideal choice if you have an extreme anxiety disorder. It can also be useful if you have to undergo extensive dental work..

3. Alleviate your fear of pain

If you’ve recently been suffering dental pain, it’s likely you already feel emotionally drained and sensitive. Understandably, you don’t want anything to exacerbate these feelings. Communicate your concerns with your dentist before your treatment so we can take extra care. We have an anaesthetics, numbing gels and sedatives on hand to make your procedure as relaxed and pain-free as possible. Laughing gas may also be a good option for you if you’re currently in pain – or worried about experiencing more.

Suppose you feel that your fear of pain is a vicious cycle. In that case, your fear of pain causes more anxiety, which causes more fear. If this sounds like you, try some relaxation techniques before your appointment. Anything from exercising, yoga, meditation or breathing exercises could be beneficial for you.

4. Overcome past dental trauma issues

Unfortunately, some people have suffered painful or traumatic experiences at the dentist. Examples of such traumas could be an emergency injury, an acute pain flareup or poor treatment from a noncommunicative dental professional. Fortunately, though, these incidences are few and far between today. However, this doesn’t remove your painful memories.

If you’ve had an unpleasant experience at the dentist, talk to our dentist before your treatment. Your dentist can discuss ways to avoid a repeat experience and suggest ways to make your future dental experiences far more relaxing. Extra numbing or pain-relieving medications can be used, or you may opt for a sedative or laughing gas to make you feel extra comfortable.

relaxing dental room images

4. Overcome past abusive traumas

Many of us have suffered traumatic experiences in the hands of authority figures at some stage. For some, these memories may not be an issue – but others may find them extremely distressing. Reclining in the dentist chair in a vulnerable position at the mercy of a professional working above you can make some people feel vulnerable.

If a visit to the dentist triggers any memories, or causes you to feel powerless and vulnerable, speak to your dentist before your treatment. Voicing your concern may be enough. For some, having the dentist explain their actions in advance allows the patient to feel in control – and can be extremely helpful. If you require more help, though, we can offer medication or laughing gas to help you.

Don’t let your dental anxieties stop you from visiting the dentist. Your dental health is important, so it’s essential you maintain regular visits. 

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Talk to one of our caring, empathic dentists about your dental anxiety soon.

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