3% to 24% of people suffer some level of fear or anxiety about going to the dentist. While most of us can manage our worry, for some people it’s disabling and means they don’t get the dental treatment they need.

Anxiousness about going to the dentist or oral surgery is totally normal. But if it’s stopping you from getting dental care, then your small problems will turn into big problems. There are some techniques to get over this though, so you can have a strong, pain-free, permanent and beautiful smile.

Why do some people suffer from dental anxiety?

These fears and phobias can be for a variety of reasons. Four main reasons that people suffer from dental stress include:

  • Feeling helpless in the situation
  • Worry about level of pain
  • Remembering previous appointments that may have been traumatic or painful
  • Being embarrassed about current condition of teeth and smile

These are all genuine fears, often derived from very real experiences. But if you let the anxiety win, and keep on putting your dental visits off, there are serious consequences. A small filling can lead to a root canal, damage to nerves, gum disease, and even tooth loss. Most of these problems are fully avoidable, when dealing with it in the first instance would have been relatively cheap and painless.

If you have put off a visit to dental clinics, it’s likely that you’ve come to a point where you need dental implants treatment. This is a time consuming process that can strike fear into people, but generally, there’s no need.

How can you overcome dental anxiety?

If you are genuinely scared of the dentist or the procedures you may undergo, there are some steps you can take to avoid the worry and overcome your fears. What works for some people may not work for you, so learn a range of techniques and find one that works for you.

Breathing exercises

This is a simple technique that you can use before and during the visit. Breathing exercises help to focus on your body, relaxing the physical symptoms of stress, which can help to calm the mind. It also distracts your brain, giving you something to focus on rather than the stress.

Take a breath in to the count of three, and then release it over the count of three. This is easy to do and very calming. Don’t try to shorten the breaths, as this may lead you to hyperventilate.

Speak to your dentist about your worries

Our dentists know that some people feel nervous about a visit. As a result, they employ a range of strategies to help you relax. For instance, if you tell them you’re embarrassed about the state your teeth have ended up in, they will reassure you—this is their job. They have seen much worse. They enjoy fixing teeth so a patient no longer has any pain, have good oral health and are happy with their appearance.

They can also help to establish a signal system, allowing you to retain control throughout the process. Something like raising your hand means you can halt proceedings until you feel comfortable starting again.

A good dentist will also be happy to tell you exactly what they will do, how long each step will take, and what you can expect to feel. Sometimes just knowing what you’re facing can be all you need: ten minutes of pressure, ten seconds of pain before anaesthetic, or maybe just feeling vibrations. You could also discuss the possibility of sedation and if that’s appropriate for your treatment.

A dentist will be able to tell you about the success rates of dental implants; how any discomfort or stress is worth it to have an option that look and feel like your own teeth (but better), without pain or embarrassment.

Be careful of what you eat before a visit to the dentist

Avoid food and drink that make your jittery. Foods with sugar and caffeine aren’t going to make you feel relaxed; instead, eat something with protein that will help keep you calm.

Develop techniques to stay calm

If breathing exercises aren’t your thing, ask if you can wear headphones during the procedure. Depending on the procedure, most of our dentists will be fine with this, especially if it helps you feel at ease. Whether you listen to Beethoven, death metal, an audiobook or podcast, it doesn’t matter; just something that makes you feel more relaxed.

There are a range of other techniques and if your fear is overwhelming, considering progressive muscle relaxation, a desensitisation programme, or even hypnosis may be effective. You need to find the right answer for you, and no two people are the same. Getting dental implants is a process that will make your life a lot better, and it’s well worth getting done. If you suffer dental anxiety, contact us at Dental Artistry. We want to help you be comfortable enough to get the teeth you need for a long, happy and fulfilling life.