How to Overcome Your Fear of the Dentist
Does the sound of drilling or the sight of a dentist chair fill you with dread? You’re not alone. Over 1.3 million Australians have some form of dentist phobia. If you’re long overdue for a dental appointment, we can help you overcome your fear of the dentist so you can maintain a high standard of oral health.
Before we share some helpful tips on how to combat your dental anxiety, it’s important to first understand what this condition is to find your ideal treatment plan.
Dental Anxiety Defined
Dental anxiety is the term used to describe the anxiety, fear or stress one might feel in a dental setting. If you have this kind of anxiety you may feel dizzy, breathless and experience palpitations at the thought of visiting the dentist.
In severe cases, dental anxiety can stop you from sleeping, alter your mood, and cause panic attacks. Dental anxiety often varies in severity from person to person and can show up in a variety of different ways.
Dental Phobia Defined
Some patients can live with dental anxiety and still attend their appointments. However, when dental anxiety is so severe that it results in a persistent, irrational fear of going to the dentist (and you miss appointments) you likely have a dentist phobia. When left untreated, a dentist phobia can significantly impact your oral health. To keep this condition from impacting your oral health, it’s necessary to seek help if you think you may have a phobia of the dentist.
Tips to Overcome Your Fear
Because dental anxiety is so commonplace, there are naturally lots of successful treatments for overcoming this condition. These are some of the steps you can take to combat your fear of the dentist.
- Before booking any treatment, schedule a meet and greet with your dentist and their assistants. This will help break the ice and allow you to feel more comfortable entering the dentist clinic.
- It’s common for dentists to have a television above the treatment chair these days. You could find a dentist that provides this feature and request they put on a specific TV show or movie that helps you relax. For example, if you find David Attenborough’s voice soothing, ask your dentist to pop one of his documentaries on.
- Practice mindfulness and other deep breathing activities to lower the physical symptoms of your dental anxiety.
- Work with your dentist to find a signal to “STOP” the procedure when you can feel your dental anxiety increasing in the chair. This should be discussed at the beginning of your appointment.
- After your appointment, be sure to reward yourself for overcoming your dental phobia with a special treat. You could buy yourself something nice, take the rest of the day off work, or treat yourself to a tasty snack.
- Book your next check-up immediately after each appointment. Having an appointment booked in will make it harder for you to avoid going to the dentist.
- As a last resort, your dentist can administer a general anaesthetic, laughing gas or a sedative so you’re unconscious during the procedure. This can be arranged with a phone call to your clinic to discuss your needs prior to undergoing treatment.
No matter how deep your fear of the dentist runs, it’s never too late to overcome your dental anxiety or dentist phobia. If you try these tips and still can’t handle visiting the dentist, you may need the support of a mental health professional to overcome your fear.
Think you’ve got the patience to help people overcome their fear of the dentist? You could be suited to a career as a dental assistant. Learn how to get qualified by checking out our HLT35015 Certificate III in Dental Assisting course.