Do you have anxiety when you know you have a dental appointment? Do not worry, you are not alone! Our Dental Therapist Lauren discusses dental anxiety which commonly affects over half of her patients and offers some techniques to help you overcome this.
I want to discuss this topic as from my experience around 65% of my patients range from anxious feelings when entering my surgery, to some unable to sit in a dental chair at all. Here at EvoDental we want to let you know it is okay to feel this way. The team and I will work alongside you, at a pace that suits you, setting goals and discussing the outcome you would like at the end of your Evo journey. Slow and steady wins the race, setting small goals will help alleviate those underlying feelings of anxiety or fear.
So, what is dental anxiety, fear and phobia?
Dental anxiety is a term used to describe fear, anxiety or stress in a dental setting. Being scared to visit the dentist can result in delaying or avoiding dental treatment. Dental anxiety can be associated with certain triggers or past experiences leading to fears or even a phobia of the dentist. When dental anxiety is severe and results in irrational fear and complete avoidance of going to the dentist, it can be classified as a dental phobia.
Dental anxiety can be caused by:
- Anxiety associated with other conditions such as agoraphobia (fear of being in situations where you feel you cannot escape), claustrophobia (fear of closed spaces) or obsessive-compulsive disorder where there is an obsession
- Dental experience or other healthcare experience
- Other people’s traumatic experiences
- The view that the mouth is a personal area and accessing the mouth is an invasion of personal space
- Fear of loss of control
- Trust issues
How can we help you overcome this?
- Having an appointment time early in the morning meaning less time to dwell on it.
- The first appointment will simply be a consultation so do not worry about having any treatment. See this first visit as your chance to get to know the team and to ask any questions (no question is a silly question!)
- Bringing a family member to your first appointment for support can help relieve some stresses, we will not mind if they accompany you.
- Agree a sign with the clinician to signal that you need a break and want them to stop. It can be as simple as raising your hand and will help you feel more in control.
- We believe it helps if we start gradually with a consultation, viewing the practice and meeting the team. Familiarise yourself with the surroundings and work up to treatment.
- Talk to the clinician about using medicaments to help, numbing gel, sedatives etc.
- Listen to music during your visit. It may help you relax; we give every patient the choice to listen to their favourite music throughout their treatment.
- Try relaxation techniques. Milgrom suggests controlled breathing — taking a big breath, holding it, and letting it out very slowly, like you are a leaky tire. This will slow your heartbeat and relax your muscle.
Here at EvoDental we work hard to change people’s perceptions of what dental treatment is like. Perhaps inevitably, people fear the worst when it comes to dentistry. I am proud to say our practice ensures every patient is happy and content through out their journey.
Please do not feel embarrassed, every one of us has a fear of something…
Me for example…I am absolutely petrified of moths and butterflies stemming from a childhood experience at butterfly world. You would find me running a mile from anything flying my way but as I have grown up and moved into my own house, I had to learn to deal with these things. Slowly but surely, I am getting better and if I knew something life changing was was waiting for me at the exit of butterfly palace, with the support of caring and experienced professionals I would walk through them doors…
By Lauren McGovern, Dental Therapist at EvoDental