Ways To Cope With Dental Anxiety

If you ever get nervous just thinking about going to the dentist, you’re not alone. Perhaps you’re scared the visit might hurt or you haven’t been in a while and not sure what the dentist will find. 

Whatever your reason, our dentists at Riversdale Dental will make sure your dental and your emotional health are taken care of. The more you delay in visiting your dentist, the higher your risk of developing dental problems that will make gearing up for future dental visits more difficult. In fact, seeing your dentist regularly can actually make the entire process – from making an appointment to sailing through it – much easier on many levels. 
Use these strategies at your next appointment to help ease your anxiety and strengthen your smile. 

Speak up 

Anyone with anxiety knows sharing your feelings makes a world of difference. If you’re tense or anxious, do yourself a favor and get your concerns off your chest. Your dentist and dental team are better able to treat you if they know your needs. 

  • Tell your dentist about your anxiety. When you book your appointment, tell the receptionist you’re nervous about dental visits. Remind the dentist and dental staff about your anxiety when you arrive. Share any bad experiences you may have had in the past, and ask for suggestions on coping strategies. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes knowing what is going to happen alleviates any fears of the unknown. 
  • Agree on a signal. Let your dentist know by raising your hand if you need to take a break during an exam. 
  • If you experience pain even with a local anesthetic, tell your dentist. Some patients get embarrassed about their pain tolerance or don’t want to interrupt a dentist during a procedure. Talk with your dentist about pain before it starts so your dentist knows how to communicate

Distract Yourself

Some patients tell us that waiting to go into the treatment room is one of the worst parts of their dental visits. It is often true that what we imagine will happen is far worse than what does. The more time we have to think about this, the worse it is likely to get. Although we do try to keep your appointment time as accurate as we can, dental emergencies can arise and cause small delays. Bringing a book or your favourite music (with headphones) might help to distract you. Depending on the treatment required, the dentist may also allow you to wear your headphones during the treatment too, but please do ask.

 Use mindfulness techniques 

Relaxation starts in the mind. Try deep breathing exercises to help relax tension in your muscles. 

  • Count your breaths. Inhale slowly and then exhale for the same number of counts. Do this five times while you’re waiting for your appointment, or during breaks while you’re sitting in the dental chair. 
  • Do a body scan. Concentrate on relaxing your muscles, one body part at a time. Start with your head and work your way down to your toes. For example, you can focus on releasing tension starting in your forehead, then your cheeks, your neck and down the rest of your body. 

Plan a reward for yourself

However much you worry about your treatment, the reality is that it almost certainly won’t be anywhere near as bad as you expect and will also be over a lot quicker too. However scared you were, you won’t have to worry about it for some time so why not reward yourself with something. Planning this in your head during treatment might help as well. If the treatment received means that you might need to relax for a day or two, then perhaps treat yourself to a favourite book. For more routine treatments or even examinations (which can produce anxiety for some) perhaps treat yourself to a nice coffee and cake, and yes, we know sugar is bad for you but we will forgive you this once!

Our Riversdale Dental team do understand that you might be feeling nervous or anxious about your visit and we will do all that we can to make you feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible. If you have any particular concerns before your appointment, you can call our Camberwell clinic in advance on 03 9882 5566.