For many people, the word ‘dentist’ can send shivers down their spine. If you get scared or anxious about visiting the dentist, know that you’re not alone. In fact, according to a recent Australian study, more adults are scared of the dentist than children. It was found that 1 in 6 adults and 1 in 10 children have high dental fear.
Unfortunately, fear of the dentist can do a great deal of harm to your teeth. Failing to visit your recommended twice-yearly check-ups allow for a build-up of plaque (as you’re not getting regular professional cleans) and makes it harder to detect early signs of tooth decay. This increases your risk of serious tooth damage and dental emergencies, which can result in more pain and more expensive costs of dental treatment.
Be honest with your dentist
Dentists are highly trained to work and empathise with anxious patients – remember they come across them all the time! Don’t be afraid to speak to your dentist about your nerves and concerns. Dentists can usually spot the signs of dental anxiety, but this will inform them to be extra patient with you. It will also allow you both to discuss coping strategies, such as taking short breaks to make procedures more comfortable.
Some people get nervous because they’re unaware of the procedures or tools being used on their teeth. Talking to your dentist can help you get a better understanding of what’s happening, so that you don’t have to worry about any nasty surprises.
Get into the routine of regular check-ups
Regular check-ups may be the last thing you want to do when you have a fear of the dentist, but hear me out on this one. If you’re in the habit of going to the dentist only when you’re in serious pain, this can reinforce your dental anxiety.
Regular check-ups can demonstrate to you that not all dental experiences are bad. In fact, regular check-ups are the best way to ensure strong, healthy and clean teeth. A professional clean every six months is very important for removing plaque that your toothbrush cannot and preventing tooth decay and gum disease. So, rather than dreading the dentist, you often walk out of each quick check-up and clean feeling very relieved.
Another way to reduce your fear of the dentist is to distract yourself. Most modern dental practices are equipped with TVs to focus your attention on. You can also ask your dentist if you can listen to music using your headphones to help block out any noises of the drills.
Dental sedation is also a very viable option for reducing anxiety – especially if you’re worried about pain. Nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas, is commonly used to relax both adult and child patients.
This is an almost instant calming method as the gas takes around 20 seconds to reach the brain. It takes effect just before more serious nerves begin to kick in.
Laughing gas is a very safe method of sedation – the effects wear off after time, and you can even drive home safely without a companion to assist you.
For extreme fear of the dentist, general anaesthesia is an option. Another very safe method, this involves putting the patient to sleep so that they don’t feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure.
Are you nervous to visit the dentist? At (03) 5443 0063 orour dentists are highly trained, experienced, and gentle with anxious patients – to give you the peace of mind of a comfortable dental experience. The rooms in our practice are equipped with ceiling-mounted TVs, which work great as a distraction, and we also offer a range of sedation and pain management methods to relax you. To book an appointment, speak to one of our friendly team members on