Roughly 5 to 10 percent of the population suffers from dental phobia/anxiety, but an even higher amount of people experience fear and anxiety related to dentistry that contributes to postponing and cancelling appointments, or avoiding the dentist altogether.
People often talk about dental phobia or dental anxiety — whether it’s a small discomfort or full-on sweating as you drive to the dentist office.
Dental anxiety is real and should be taken seriously, but unfortunately, some people are so nervous that they skip going to the dentist altogether. Later, they arrive with severe dental problems, which may require multiple visits to correct.
While sedation dentistry is also an option, those who choose that route often still feel their anxiety about the dentist; they rely on the drugs to “get through it.” Those who find ways to cope, often move past their fears. Anxious dental patients who try coping mechanism were much more likely to continue a dental treatment than those who underwent general anaesthesia for procedures.
Here are some surprising facts about dental anxiety.
The anxiety may be linked to embarrassment. These feelings are not just “I don’t want to sit there with my mouth open,” but a much deeper emotion. Sometimes this is rooted in history or experiences in a dental office or life, but in other cases, it generates from fear of pain, the fear of getting trapped, or the feeling of having your personal space invaded.
The clinical name is odontophobia. A true diagnosed phobia “is persistent, unrealistic, and intense fear of a specific stimulus, leading to complete avoidance of the perceived danger.”
People with dental phobia or anxiety are more likely to have tooth decay. This fact is probably less surprising. After all, those with dental anxiety may not see a dentist for many years.
People with poor oral health are often less likely to smile and may suffer from lower self-esteem.
Our tips for Dental Anxiety
1. SHARE YOUR FEARS - If you’re tense or anxious, tell your dentist and the dental staff. Expressing your concerns will help your dentist adapt the treatment to your needs.
2. KNOW THE TREATMENT - Ask our dentist to explain everything about the treatment to you beforehand.
3. LISTEN TO MUSIC - Listen with a headset to catchy, familiar, calming music, or to laugh-aloud funny books or podcasts in the waiting room and on the chair.
4. FOCUS ON BREATHING - Focus on breathing regularly and slowly during dental procedures. When people are nervous they tend to hold their breath, which decreases oxygen levels and further increases feelings of panic.
5. MAKE USE OF THE CEILING TV - Ask the Dentist or the Dental Assistant to put on something fascinating to look at on the ceiling TV.
6. DITCH THE EARLY BIRD - Try not to get to the appointment too early, as sitting in the waiting room can increase your anxiety.
7. AVOID COFFEIN - If you are prone to anxiety when visiting the dentist, don’t drink coffee that morning. Try a decaffeinated coffee or a cup of caffeine-free green tea instead.
8. WHATCH WHAT YOU EAT AND DRINK - Eat high-protein foods which – unlike sugary foods – produce a calming effect.
9. USE HAND SIGNALS - Empower yourself by agreeing on hand signals to communicate with your dentist. When you feel uncomfortable, signal the dentist to ease off or stop the procedure.
10. THE RIGHT APPOINTMENT TIME - Choose a low-stress appointment time. Select a time for your dental visit when you’re less likely to be rushed or under pressure.
11. WE HAVE NITROUS OXIDE (LAUGHING GAS FOR DENTISTRY)* - Nitrous oxide is a gas, and is commonly known as happy gas or laughing gas. Giving nitrous oxide is a way to help reduce a patient’s pain and anxiety during dental treatments. The gas is given through a small nose piece, and you will be awake throughout the procedure.
*Same day only for dental implant treatments and extractions available, all other treatments have to be approved in advance. Pricing will depend on your health provider.
We always aim to make you feel comfortable so you can maintain a healthy smile. Please let us know about your concerns whatever your level of anxiety is, before your next appointment, and we’ll be happy to work with you for a more comfortable visit.