Dealing with Dental Anxiety and Phobia

The thought of attending or even making an appointment to visit the dentist can cause a lot of us to experience anxiety and fear (dental phobia).

Many people suffer from DENTAL PHOBIAS and are so terrified of the dentist that they avoid visiting the dentist, no matter what derelict state their mouth is in. This unfortunately means they are missing out on much needed treatment putting not only their mouths at risk, but also systemic (general) health which we now know is significantly impacted by oral health.

At CDIC (Cosmetic Dental & Implant Centre), the clinicians understand how difficult it is for patients with phobias and work with them to overcome their fear. They actively encourage ‘healthy patient visits’ from a young age to check the teeth and mouth for disease and to enable young patients to familiarise themselves with the routine dental surgery ‘sounds and smells’. These ‘non invasive’ visits to the dentist are important and leaving the clinic not necessarily having operative treatments is great for fearful patients.

People with dental phobia usually experience anxiety when it comes to visiting the dentist, so it is important that these feelings are addressed by the clinician providing the care. The aim of the ‘non invasive treatment visit’ is to work at overcoming the anxiety so that future treatments can be performed.

With patients who have had a ‘bad experience’, it is important that the clinician finds out what happened at that visit and when it happened in order to find a way to get beyond it. Sometimes it’s just a matter of taking time, being patient and explaining what is going on and what needs to be done in simple terms. It is amazing how powerful the fear of the unknown is.

There are many reason as to why people suffer from anxiety and phobias when it comes to dentistry….
  • Anticipated treatment pain… almost non existent with todays modern anaesthesia techniques.
  • Bad prior experience… most of these are ‘one offs’.
  • Hearing horror dental stories from others… I always say don’t listen to stories, they aren’t always true and accurate.
  • Feeling helpless and out of control in the situation… make sure you attend a dentist who leave all treatment and control in your hands.
  • Having someone in your personal space…bring along your headphones and ‘zone out to your favourite tunes’.
  • Embarrassment… never be ashamed, by seeking treatment you are empowering yourself.

It’s an understatement to say that dentists and dental hygienists work in very close proximity to you. They are constantly in and around your mouth and “personal space” which in itself can make people very self-conscious and insecure, particularly if they are already worried about the appearance of their teeth and smile or whatever it is going on inside their mouth.

There are some great ways to help deal with the anxiety and phobias of that “dreaded” dental appointment. The most important one is choosing the right dentist. This can take time, so getting recommendations from family and friends can be useful. If all else fails, look for online reviews about the practice you will be attending or check out their website or ‘Facebook’ page – familiarising yourself with the dentist and the clinic staff will always help alleviate fear and remember they are there to help you.

Tips for Managing Dental Anxiety and Phobias
  • Distraction- listening to music
  • Relaxation / deep abdominal breathing techniques
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Parental Interaction (for children)
  • Hypnosis or meditation
  • General Anaesthetics & Sedation can also be an option if you just can’t face it

At CDIC – Malvern all our practitioner and staff are highly training in dealing with sensitive situations to ensure you always feel comfortable in our clinical environment  from the start of your visit to the end.