How to overcome dental anxiety
There are some things in life that are just not fun – like paying rent, doing your laundry, or going to the dentist. Some so ‘un-fun’, that they actually become a bit stressful.
Did you know that more than 53 per cent of Australians have said that they’d rather face public humiliation than take a trip to the dentist? In fact, according to a recent survey, going to the dentist is so feared that women are more likely to keep a regular pap smear appointment than a dentist appointment (and most of you will know that a pap smear is the least fun ever, so that’s saying a lot).
To top it all off, according to research done by Oral-B, most Australians are suffering from ‘dentophobia’, a fear of visiting the dentist, with a scary four out of five people delaying a trip to the dentist, and eight out of ten admitting that they’re anxious about visiting the dentist. And you know what happens when you’re anxious about something – you put it off for as long as you can.
Unfortunately though, dental health is one of those things that’s incredibly important – not just for the health of your teeth and gums, but for your overall health, too. So if you find that anything from mild uneasiness to extreme fear is holding you back from getting your teeth and gums checked regularly, it’s time to face your fears!
Dr Stella Karakasia, a Sydney dentist with over 24 years in practice and Oral-B Spokesperson, has these top 10 tips for alleviating dental anxiety:
Top 10 tips for alleviating dental anxiety
1. Finding the right dentist with understanding, patience, compassion, and a gentle touch is very important.
2. Communication between you and your dentist is the key to developing a trusting relationship, and this can help alleviate your fears. You’re more likely to feel at ease if your dentist stops when you ask them to, or if they explain what they’re doing.
3. Regularly exposing yourself to the environment that causes your anxiety can help put you at ease. If you build a rapport with your dentist and the staff, they can help ease any anxiousness and ensure you feel cared for and safe.
4. Starting your kids’ dental visits early and making visits fun with toys or having their favourite DVD playing can make a difference.
5. Being engaged in encouragement and positive communication about the dentist visit, along with the dentist communicating well with your child will help alleviate anxiety and stress.
6. Distractions can help alleviate anxiety. A dentist’s office that has aromatherapy, an aquarium, ambient music, or a TV above the treatment chair can help with your stress. And if none of these are present, bring your own music and headphones to soften the sound of that drilling noise.
7. Visiting the dentist regularly for preventative care will help prevent any major dental problems, which is usually the cause of a lot of anxiety.
8. If you’re extremely anxious, consider getting your treatment done under sedation. If you avoid treatment altogether, this may cause more serious problems in the long term.
9. Dentists can now use various techniques that can help make a local anaesthetic painless, including using topical numbing gel, warming the anaesthetic solution, and deep breathing techniques.
10. Making your appointment in the morning is a good idea, as that way, you won’t spend the whole day worrying about the appointment.
Do you suffer from dentophobia? How do you deal with the stress of going to the dentist?
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