Dental Anxiety Management: Coping Mechanisms

Dental Anxiety Management: Coping Mechanisms

dental practice specialised in treating patients with dental anxiety

Dental anxiety is something I’m sure we’ve all heard of, whether it’s something you’ve seen on television, a family member or even yourself. Dental anxiety can take many forms, from mild discomfort to full-blown phobia that can prevent you from seeing the dentist for years. 

While for some the dentist can be a mild inconvenience, for others it can trigger deep anxiety and stress at even the thought. If you’re suffering from dental anxiety, here are some helpful tips to help manage and overcome some of the fears you may have.

What Is Dental Anxiety?

As previously mentioned, dental anxiety can take many forms and can vary drastically from person to person. Most prominently, dental anxiety is the term used to describe someone who experiences anxiety, stress and fear when confronted with a dental environment.

According to statistics from the Oral Health Foundation, almost half of UK adults have a fear of the dentist, with 12% of these suffering from extreme dental anxiety or phobia.

This can lead to avoiding or delaying the dentist, possibly for years at a time. Which can mean that dental check-ups aren’t booked as frequently, or at all, paving the way for more serious dental issues down the road.

While visiting the dentist can be an extremely stressful and terrifying venture for those experiencing dental anxiety, there are several ways to subdue these fears.

9 Tips To Help Manage Dental Anxiety

1. Be Honest About Your Dental Anxiety

The first step to overcoming your fear, or at least getting to a point where it’s more manageable is having open, honest conversations. This is especially important when speaking to your dentist, whoever your dental practice may be, it’s vital they’re aware of how you’re feeling. 

The only way your dentist is able to help is they’re caught up to speed on the extent of your dental anxiety, your triggers and fears. This way they can put in the proper measures in place to ensure your experience is more positive.

2. Go To A Dentist That Deals With Nervous Patients

Something else that can help with reassurance more than anything is to seek out a dentist that specialises in appointments for anxious patients. Unfortunately, some dentists (not all), lack the tact to deal with patients experiencing dental anxiety. 

Whether they’re not experienced in dealing with anxious patients, don’t have the right equipment or lack the softness and compassion. 

At Green Square Dental, we provide specialised appointments for nervous patients suffering from a fear of dentists. Ranging from longer appointments, friendly-service and welcoming environment to IV sedation if you really can’t handle the treatment. 

We’re here to make you feel welcomed and settled as soon as you set foot through the door. Our friendly staff will sit with you and explain the treatment or appointment until you feel 100% comfortable to go through with it. We’re confident our reviews speak for themselves.

3. Deep Breathing Techniques

Learning and practising breathing techniques is a sure-fire way to help you feel calm and collected during your visit. Breathing techniques have been proven to significantly reduce stress, which for individuals experiencing dental anxiety is no exception.

There are numerous apps, websites, YouTube tutorials online to teach you breathing techniques – some even include audio to guide you through which you can listen to during the appointment.

4. Book Your Appointment Early In The Morning

If you’re known for getting more and more flustered as the day goes on, booking your appointment early in the morning can make a huge difference. By booking your appointment as early in the day as possible you’re limiting the time you have to work yourself up. 

Then once your appointment is over you can spend the rest of the day doing things you enjoy. Treat yourself to a coffee, go shopping or return home to put your favourite film on – you did great.

5. Schedule A Consultation In Advance

It’s quite common for dental practices to offer complimentary consultations to discuss treatments or just to have a chat to relieve nerves! The ability to talk with a dentist ahead of time, ask any burning questions or just say a quick hello can make all the difference. 

We provide free initial consultations, however, due to COVID-19, our consultations have gone virtual. Follow the link to sign up for your free virtual consultation today.

6. Start Simple

Much like you wouldn’t throw a child in the deep end of a pool, you wouldn’t want to throw someone experiencing dental anxiety in ‘the deep end’. By starting off on the shallow side you can dip your toes in, getting used to the process more than anything. 

Start with a quick check-up, clean and polish, whatever makes you feel the most at ease. After doing this a few times you should start to feel more empowered to tackle other dental treatments, but you don’t have to worry about that yet!

7. Visit Frequently

The more you do things, the more you get used to them – it becomes routine. The same can be said for visiting the dentist to manage dental anxiety. The more times you’re able to walk through the door, the more times you’re proving to yourself that you can do it. 

The other benefit of this is obviously your dentist is able to pick up on dental issues before they become issues. Meaning, less invasive treatment, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone.

8. Listen To Music

As with all anxiety, distraction is key. The more you think, the more you get worked up to the point where doubt and fear start to creep in. The best way to distract yourself during treatment is to listen to music, jam along to your favourite songs!

This works in two ways, while listening to music you’re more likely to slip into your happy place and become less agitated. The other benefit of listening to music is that you won’t be able to hear the various dental equipment, which may be one of your triggers.

9. Bring Someone Along

Sometimes bringing someone along that you trust can make the world of difference, whether it’s a family member, friend or partner it can work to make you feel much more at ease. To hold your hand, give you a last-minute pep talk, or even just knowing someone is there is can be comforting. 

By following these simple, actionable steps hopefully, this makes your dental anxiety more manageable. We sincerely hope that your next visit to the dentist is a much more positive one.

Getting Over Dental Anxiety Starts With A Call

The first step in getting over dental anxiety is by making an appointment with your dentist. If you’re looking to manage your dental anxiety better with an understanding, specialist dentist, find out more about our appointments for nervous patients.

Alternatively, if you’re situated in Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster and surrounding areas give us a call on 01709 917666 to discuss becoming a patient.

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