Dental anxiety is a very common problem across the UK, with over 50% of Brits choosing just to avoid their appointments. However, it was also found that most toothache root from untreated infections, meaning that due to this anxiety, a lot of dental issues are going untreated. So, how can you combat your dental anxiety and ensure a good level of dental health? We’ve put together a list of key things to consider when battling dental anxiety, making sure that you can get the dental treatment you need.
Research your dentist before your appointment
To make sure you’re going to be comfortable with your new practice and dentist, it’s best to research them before booking your appointment. Some dentists may even specialise in anxious patients. A good place to get a feel for your dentist is through reading customer testimonials. At Dental Perfection, we strive to offer our patients high quality, gentle and friendly care. You can read our customer testimonials here.
Communicate anxieties with your dentist
By telling your dentist in advance that you are anxious about your appointment or treatment, they can make sure they make you as comfortable as possible. This could be by explaining the treatment they are going to do, or how the appointment will run. This will help put your mind at ease and reduce any stress.
Focus on your breathing
Once you’re actually in the chair, a great way to manage your anxiety is to control and focus on your breathing. A great practice is to hold your breath in through your nose for about four seconds. Hold this breath for three seconds and then exhale slowly over about 5 seconds. Wait a few seconds before taking another breath and then begin the process again. This should help to keep you calm and relaxed during your treatment.
Listen to music
Taking headphones to your appointment and listening to calming music during your treatment, can help to remove yourself from the situation and reduce stress and anxiety. This can help to distract your brain from any treatment you are undergoing, whilst also keeping you relaxed and calm. It’s worth discussing with your dentist if this is possible beforehand.
Agree a hand signal
Before you begin your treatment or appointment, agree a hand signal with your dentist to let them know to stop if it gets too much. A lot of dental anxiety comes from worry about not being able to talk or communicate during an appointment. By agreeing to hand signals, you can be reassured that treatment can be stopped if you need it to be.
Caffeine is a stimulant, and its jittery effects on the body can send someone with anxiety into fight or flight mode. This is a similar reaction to when your body experiences fear or stress, therefore over-stimulating yourself with caffeine can increase anxiety levels or even cause a panic attack.
Choose a stress-free appointment time
Book an appointment at a time when you’re least likely to be stressed or under pressure. This may be a weekend appointment so you don’t have to rush back from work to your appointment. Or, you could book an early morning appointment so you don’t spend the whole day worrying about it.
Ask about numbing gel
If your anxiety mainly stems from a fear of needles and, in particular, the pain – you can ask your dentist to provide numbing gel. At dental perfection we are happy to do this for customers who are worried about pain and discomfort. By requesting numbing gel, you can reassure yourself that you have some sort of barrier to needle discomfort and pain.
If you’ve avoided dental appointments for a stretch of time due to your anxiety, then it’s best to start small with a check up appointment so you don’t overwhelm yourself. Booking yourself in for a particularly painful treatment is only going to heighten anxiety levels.
We’re happy to support any of our patients through their dental anxiety. You can view our dental treatments to find more information on what we can offer, and how we help to calm nervous patients. Or you can call, or book an appointment to talk through your worries.