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Overcoming Dental Fear & Anxiety

Posted by PM Oral Surgery on 26 August 2016
Overcoming Dental Fear & Anxiety

A little apprehension before a dental appointment, is something that almost everyone experiences at some point in their lives. When dental anxiety sets in, it can prevent people from seeking out treatment that is crucial to their oral health and overall well-being. In fact, the results from a study published in the Australian Dental Journal 2006, suggest that nearly one in five Australians have dental phobia .

 

Signs and symptoms

A more severe version of dental anxiety, dental phobia represents an irrational fear towards any sort of dental treatment. People experiencing dental phobia realise that their fears are completely irrational but are unable to get over them and will do whatever they can to avoid seeking treatment.

Symptoms of dental phobia include: an inability to sleep before the appointment; intense feelings of fear while at the clinic; experiencing nausea and crying before appointments; and being distressed by the idea of any dental treatment in one's mouth.

Dental phobia is derived from a fear of potential pain. This fear might be a result of a previous painful dental experience resulting in an association or from learning stories of other patient experiences. Patients may also be anxious about the side effects of anaesthesia which may cause dizziness and nausea.

Finally, dental phobia might be linked to a feeling of helplessness, self-consciousness or lack of control in the dental chair.

How to deal with dental anxiety

Depending on the severity and reasons behind dental anxiety, there are a variety of methods that can be used to treat the issue. A routine oral check-up once every 6 months can significantly reduce the likelihood of oral health concerns developing in future and the need for complex treatment.

1. Open communication

The key is open communication. Open dialogue with the clinician helps you to understand your oral health needs and the treatment options available to you. Talking through your treatment plan with your clinician and making them aware of your propensity to be anxious will also help to alleviate anxiety. Let your dentist know.

2. Distraction

One way to reduce stress during your appointment is to distract yourself with something you enjoy doing. Simple distraction techniques can help you to feel calm and relaxed. Try listening to music during your appointment, you are more than welcome to bring your own music with earphones. You can also use a stress ball to help distract and relax yourself during your appointment.

3. Sedation /  General Anaesthetic

Sedation in dentistry is a modern, safe and effective technique that will make your dental visit a relaxing and comfortable experience.

Combination of local anaesthetic and intravenous sedation - "twilight sedation" - In addition to a local anaesthetic injection you can be given an injection into a vein in your arm. This sedative keeps you conscious in a sleep-like state and relaxed about the procedure.

General anaesthetic - This is a state of controlled unconsciousness. During a general anaesthetic, medications are used to send you to sleep, so you're unaware of surgery and don't move or feel pain while it's carried out.

It is never too late to manage your dental anxiety, you can start by discussing your concerns with us. If you have an existing oral health issue, our qualified oral surgeon will be able to advise you on the best treatment options available. Overcome your anxiety and it will soon be replaced with a broad smile.

Should you have any questions, please contact PM Oral Surgery on 02 9745 4066.

Australian Dental Journal 2006,  by JM Armfield JM, Spencer AJ, Stewart JF. Dental fear in Australia: who's afraid of the dentist?. Aust Dent J. 2006,51:(1)78-85.

Author: PM Oral Surgery
Tags: Dental appointments

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