6 Tips for Overcoming Dental Anxiety

There are very few people out there who can truly say that they look forward to visiting the dentist. 

We’re not sure whether it’s the sound of the implements used, the smell, the fact that certain procedures can be painful, or simply because of too many horror movies, but the simple fact of the matter is that dental anxiety is a very real phobia and can lead to many oral problems. 

It's perfectly normal to feel apprehensive about visiting the dentist, but there are many people out there who suffer from extreme dental anxiety and phobias of the dentist. Rather than visiting the dentist when they need to, these individuals often suffer because of their dentist phobia, until their issues get so bad that they have no choice, or until they simply lose their teeth. 

If you suffer from a phobia of the dentist and want to get over your fear, here’s a look at 6 tips for overcoming dental anxiety. 

What is dental anxiety?

Put very simply, dental anxiety is a term which is used to describe a stress, fear, or anxiety relating to visiting the dentist, undergoing a dental procedure, or anything else relating to the dental industry. 

Dental anxiety can leave people petrified of visiting the dentist and having any form of dental treatment or procedure carried out. As a result of this fear, they will often avoid the dentist altogether, which is obviously not ideal for your oral health. 

What are the most common causes of dental anxiety?

When it comes to fears and anxieties, every single person out there is different, and with dental anxiety, this is no different either. 

With that said however, some of the most common causes of dental anxiety include: 

  • A previous traumatic dental experience 
  • Trust issues 
  • Fear of needles 
  • Previous trauma to the face, neck, or head 
  • Personal space issues 
  • Self-conscious issues 
  • Social anxiety 
  • Anxiety, stress, depression, PTSD, or other mental health issues 
  • Trust issues 
  • Weak pain threshold 
  • Fear of loud noises 

Tips for overcoming dental anxiety

If you struggle with dental anxiety, you might be looking for tips on overcoming dental anxiety once and for all. If this is indeed the case, here are several tips on how to overcome dental anxiety. 

Understand the reasons for your fear 

One of the simplest and most effective strategies for overcoming dental anxiety, is understanding the reasons for your fear of the dentist in the first place. 

If you can get to the bottom of what is making you stressed, anxious, or scared about visiting the dentist, you can then look for coping strategies and ways of setting your mind at ease. Often, once we understand why something makes us feel the way we feel, this helps to ease our concerns and calm us down. 

Try to understand what triggers your dental anxiety and look for ways of avoiding certain triggers or stressors. 

Know what to expect from your appointment 

Another reason why people often suffer with dental stress and anxiety is fear of the unknown. 

We all know how awful certain dental instruments can sound, and we all know how invasive some dental procedures can be. If you suffer from dental anxiety however, to help set your mind at ease, take the time to find out exactly what your appointment will entail. 

Once you know what to expect from your appointment, you can rest assured that there will be no nasty surprises, no random surgeries or injections, and no unnecessary pain and discomfort. 

As far as how to overcome dental anxiety goes, understanding exactly what your appointment will entail will certainly help to settle your nerves. 

Practice good oral hygiene 

They say that prevention is better than cure, and if you are genuinely stressed, fearful, or anxious about visiting the dentist, good oral hygiene could help. 

By practising good oral hygiene, I.E brushing your teeth daily, flossing, using mouthwash, and avoiding sugary and overly acidic foods and drinks, if you can keep your teeth and gums healthy, you won’t need to visit the dentist in the first place. 

Consider medication or sedation 

Another very handy tip for overcoming dental anxiety is to consider sedation. 

Special medication can be used before your visit to help you to relax. You can try anti-anxiety drugs or medications before you visit, you can be sedated if you are having a procedure, of you can use nitrous oxide, also known as ‘laughing gas’. 

If you are genuinely concerned, speak to your dentist beforehand and discuss whether drugs, medication, or sedation are viable options. 

Work with your dentist to overcome your fears 

If you are looking for tips on how to overcome dental anxiety, why not speak to your dentist and work out a plan to overcome your anxieties? 

Remember, dental anxiety is very common, and your dentist will know a variety of coping methods, techniques and medications to help you overcome it. 

Seek help from support groups 

Another very useful tip for anybody struggling when overcoming dental anxiety is to seek help from support groups. 

Whether online or in person, support groups are set up to help people just like you, who struggle with stress and anxiety over visiting the dentist. 

These groups are great as you can seek out reassurance if you are nervous, you can ask other people for coping techniques and tips, and you can simply vent if something is bothering you or concerning you. 

Why regular dental visits are important

Despite the fact that dental anxiety can be crippling, it is always recommended that you visit the dentist on a regular basis. 

Regular dental visits will help to keep your teeth and gums healthy, you can learn better oral hygiene techniques, you can avoid future dental issues, you can ask for help and advice, and much more besides.

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