To maintain healthy teeth and gums, you need to visit the dentist every six months. However, approximately 13% to 24% of dental patients worldwide experience dental anxiety. In some cases, this fear can be debilitating, preventing some people from seeing their dentist for years.
While some fear is normal, it’s important to learn how to get over dental anxiety. Minor dental issues can become serious without regular professional cleaning and treatment, even leading to permanent damage or tooth loss.
Why People Experience Dental Anxiety?
Before learning how to get over dental anxiety, patients should understand why they fear the dentist. According to an NCBI study, most dental anxiety is caused by three factors:
Bad experiences at the dentist’s office as a child or adult can be traumatic. Whether a numbing agent didn’t take full effect during a filling procedure or an extraction didn’t go to plan, previous experiences directly impact dental anxiety.
You may also develop a fear of the dentist due to horror stories from friends or family. Whether or not these stories are true doesn’t necessarily lessen anxiety levels.
Some patients’ personality traits make them more prone to anxiety during social situations as well as dental procedures. If you have a generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety, or another mood disorder, you may be more prone to dental anxiety.
Importance of Overcoming Dental Anxiety
If your dental anxiety is causing you to miss regular check-ups, you may also miss necessary dental procedures, like cleaning and fillings. Dentists can detect and diagnose early signs of gum disease, cavities, and other oral health issues like mouth cancer during routine check-ups.
Early detection is essential for effective treatment, limiting the long-term risks of dental problems. Learning how to get over dental anxiety makes regular dental visits easier, helping you maintain good oral hygiene, a healthy white smile, and avoid major restorative procedures root canal treatment, dental crowns, dental bridges and dental implants.
How to Get Over Dental Anxiety?
Dental anxiety doesn’t need to prevent you from getting the care you need. There are several effective ways to help reduce or control dental anxiety and protect your oral health.
Schedule an initial consultation
Not knowing what to expect from a dental visit can elicit intense anxiety for some people. If the thought of visiting the dentist for a procedure causes you to feel anxious, call Lakeside Dental Studio to schedule a non-procedural initial consultation.
During this visit, you can explore the facility, including the waiting room and exam room, and discuss various treatment options and techniques. Understanding what to expect can help alleviate dental anxiety.
Use distraction techniques
Distraction is an excellent way to help minimise the stress of dental procedures. When booking your dental visit, ask if you can wear earbuds or watch your phone during treatment. Listening to music or watching your favourite TV series can help drown out the noise and vibrations from the dental handpiece.
Practice deep breathing
Research has shown that deep breathing techniques can dramatically lower anxiety and stress. Diaphragmatic breathing slows down your heart rate and lowers cortisol levels.
To practice deep breathing in the dentist’s chair, place your hands on either side of your navel with your fingers facing each other. Inhale for five seconds through your nose, inflating your abdomen like a balloon. Hold your breath for five seconds, then exhale for five seconds from your mouth. As you exhale, squeeze your diaphragm and abdominal muscles. Repeat throughout the procedure.
Consider sedation dentistry
At Lakeside Dental Studio, we understand the challenges patients face with dental anxiety. As well as providing attentive care for all dental procedures, we also offer sedation dentistry.
Sedation dentistry is an excellent option for people with hypersensitive gag reflex, past trauma, and patients with severe dental anxiety.
Sleep dentistry or sedation dentistry uses sedative medications administered through an IV drip. This medication puts patients in a deeply relaxed but conscious state. You can respond to questions and directions from your dentist, but you may have no recollection of the procedure after the effects have worn off. Your vitals are carefully monitored throughout the treatment and afterwards until you are fully conscious.
The effects of sedation dentistry begin to wear off about twenty minutes after the IV drip is removed. You may still feel the effects for up to six hours, so you must have someone you trust to drive you home after the procedure.
Ask for virtually painless local anaesthesia
At Lakeside Dental Studio, we offer a specialised technique for administering local anaesthesia. Upon request, we can use a computer-assisted local anaesthetic delivery system.
This device administers anaesthetic slowly and consistently, taking into account the tissue density and structure of the injection location. The slow speed means that the numbing agent takes effect before the remainder of the anaesthetic is injected, so the needle is essentially being injected into the already numb tissue. The needles used are also smaller in diameter than traditional dental syringes.
Overcome Dental Anxiety With Lakeside Dental Studio
At Lakeside Dental Studio, we have helped numerous patients overcome their dental anxiety. If you’ve been putting off your dental check-up because of anxiety, schedule a friendly, non-dental visit where we can help you deal with your issues. We operate in a relaxed, caring, and compassionate environment, ensuring you’ll be at ease with any of our dentists.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
Why Are People Afraid of the Dentist? Observations and Explanations
Dental fear? Our readers suggest coping techniques.
Computer-controlled local anesthetic delivery for painless anesthesia: a literature review
The role of deep breathing on stress