Dentophobia: How To Get Over Dental Anxiety

patient at dentist smiling dental anxiety treatment

Many people have dental anxiety, and it is a common problem worldwide. So if you feel nervous when the time comes to visit us here at Tandara Dental Centre, you are not alone. It is an issue we repeatedly encounter, and our gentle and caring dental team has considerable experience in helping people conquer these feelings.

What is Dental Anxiety?

Dental anxiety, or dentophobia, is where someone feels anxious or nervous or even fearful at the thought of seeing a dentist. These feelings are relatively mild for some, and they can still manage to see a dentist regularly. For others, dental fear and anxiety are more severe and can prevent them from seeing a dentist when needed, and they would rather put up with the pain and discomfort until it finally becomes too much to bear. Some people are so anxious that the mere thought of contacting a dentist is enough to make them break out into a cold sweat, and it can happen to the most rational amongst us. The impact of ignoring dental problems because of fear and anxiety can be considerable. 

What Happens When Dental Anxiety Prevents Regular Dental Visits?

Small problems that could have been easily remedied develop into more substantial issues, requiring lengthier and more costly treatment or even leading to tooth loss. When someone visits a dental practice when they are in pain or discomfort, it can make it even harder to cope. Some common dental problems, especially gum disease, can potentially affect overall health. This disease is linked to serious health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, respiratory diseases and dementia. Something as simple as an untreated cavity in a tooth has the potential to require a root canal treatment, or even develop into a severe infection that, in the worst case, can become life-threatening. 

Then, there is the everyday impact of having poor dental health. When your teeth are failing and are in pain, it can be tricky to eat comfortably, especially harder or crunchier foods. Consequently, following a nutritious diet providing everything your body needs to fight infection and disease more effectively can be more difficult. Finally, when you know your smile doesn’t look its best, it can make you feel self-conscious about socialising with others and may make you more likely to decline invitations, potentially leading to feelings of social isolation.

What Are the Main Causes of Dental Anxiety?

A variety of factors can cause dental fear and anxiety. For some people, it’s due to a previous bad experience at the dentist. Others may fear the sights, sounds and smells in a dental practice or fear needles. Some people are anxious about relinquishing control to the dental team and fear feeling helpless in the dental chair. Dental anxiety and fear can be passed on to others from parents and siblings, even when they strive hard for this not to happen. It’s not unusual to see dental anxiety in children with parents who are nervous about receiving dental care. In addition, many people have a strong gag reflex, more sensitive teeth, or have a lower pain threshold, so receiving even routine dental care can feel very uncomfortable. 

Our goal at Tandara Dental Clinic is to help provide the best care, in the most comfortable environment for each of our patients. We provide a range of treatment options, including emergency dental treatment. However, with our tips below, continued education and our in-person clinic care fostered by our wonderful team, we hope to encourage:

  • Healthy and well informed oral hygiene practices
  • Regular visits for checkup and cleans as needed by each patient

How to Deal with Dental Anxiety

The first step in dealing with dental anxiety is to let us know how you feel. Once we are aware, we can take appropriate steps to help you. Our dental team can talk with you to help us understand why you feel this way so we can devise a suitable plan enabling you to move forward past these feelings. Please note we never judge, and everyone here is kind and compassionate. We can make sure you receive dental care in a non threatening and more comfortable way so you can cope more easily. We’ve listed four ways we can help you below:

  1. If you fear feeling helpless in the dental chair, we can ensure you are always in control by giving you a simple signal when you want us to stop. It can be as easy as raising your hand, and we will take a break until you want us to continue. 
  2. If you fear needles, we can ensure you receive any necessary injections more comfortably. Often an injection will feel less comfortable when given too quickly. We can numb the injection site beforehand and use special techniques to administer the anaesthetic more slowly to feel more comfortable. 
  3. Before we begin any treatment, we always take care to explain any procedure carefully, using easy to understand terminology, and we welcome your questions. Many people find it reassuring to know exactly what to expect, why treatment is needed, and how this will help their dental health.
  4. Deep breathing exercises or meditation can help some people feel more relaxed in the dental chair. We also invite people to listen to music or a favourite podcast during treatment to help them relax.

Other Dental Anxiety Treatment Options: Sedation Dentistry

When someone needs urgent dental care to restore dental health, another treatment approach may be needed, such as sedation dentistry.

Dental sedation can be very useful for anyone feeling extremely fearful about seeing a dentist, whether they need a simple dental cleaning or a lengthier and more complicated treatment. For example, this option can be extremely helpful if you need wisdom teeth removed or would love to have dental implant surgery to restore missing teeth. In addition, some children and adults have more complex health needs and may find a dental practice overwhelming or cannot sit still to receive dental care. 

Tandara Dental Centre can provide light sedation in the form of happy gas, a solution many people are already familiar with where nitrous oxide is inhaled during treatment. The gas induces feelings of relaxation and calm, but you will still be awake and able to communicate throughout the appointment. Alternatively, intravenous sedation provides a much deeper level of relaxation, so much so that you may fall asleep or will feel very drowsy. We can still awaken you if necessary. Sedation dentistry can be a useful option when a longer appointment is needed or allows our dentist to complete more treatment in a single visit. 

Overcoming Dental Anxiety in the Longer-Term

We can do a lot to help ensure people feel less anxious while visiting us, and gradually, we hope to build a good long-term relationship with you based on mutual respect and trust that develops as you visit us more often. As you become more comfortable with seeing us, we hope you can begin a preventive dentistry routine that includes checkups and cleans, usually every six months. Preventive dentistry is the most effective way to catch any small issues early when treatment is faster, cheaper and less invasive. Also, when you have good dental health and know you are unlikely to need any major treatment, it is often easier to visit us without prompting feelings of anxiety or fear.

Contact us ahead of your next appointment, or simply to have a chat to let us know how we can help make your next visit comfortable.

Leave a Comment

At Tandara Dental Centre in Gosnells, we’re happy to discuss all of your care options with you, so that you can choose the one that’s best for your smile. Contact us today to schedule!