How to manage the fear of a dental appointment

Dental fear and anxiety

Fear can come in different shapes and sizes but a serious fear manifests as a phobia making some of what others would consider a simple task, very difficult and a great cause of anxiety. If you have a fear of the dentist, this can seriously impact on your oral health and when considering how important our teeth are, this can be problematic for some. It may be that the root cause (excuse the pun) stems from experiences from previous visits, stories heard from others or simply a fear of the unknown. The result is panic and anxiety at levels some may not comprehend, whilst others certainly will.

The problem can not be ignored and pleasingly, as time progresses as have dental practices. Previously, a dentist’s surgery was fairly clinical and not very inviting, but over time this has changed and the waiting area is often more inviting, putting the client at ease when they arrive for their appointment. Staff are more considerate to nervous patients and dentists are more aware of the anxieties their client faces and they are prepared to face the challenges together.

Tips to deal with anxiety when visiting the dentist:

  • Speak to the dentist and explain your feelings, you can then work together to make your visit as relaxed as possible.
  • Undertake pro-active breathing and relaxation techniques, to calm the nerves.
  • Listen to some music – take earphones if allowed, this will act as a distraction and drown out any noises that may contribute to anxiety.
  • If you feel overwhelmed or want the treatment to stop, agree on a hand signal with your dentist.
  • Ask the dental nurse to sit and speak with you during your appointment, the additional support may be re-assuring.

Hopefully, given time, fear and anxiety as a result of a dental appointment can be allayed. If not, there is always the option to discuss medical interventions, however, an open discussion with your dentist is hopefully all that will be needed. They want you to come back after all.
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