Many of us still remember our visits to the school dentist with some trepidation and have a mouth full of fillings as a legacy. Those memories can leave a lasting scar that can be difficult to heal but as adults we try to balance that anxiety with the understanding that a healthy mouth enables us to enjoy our food and drink, and to maintain clear speech and a confident smile.
Our entire dental team recognizes the extreme anxiety that some people feel and has had enormous success helping even the most anxious of patients overcome their negative feelings towards dental visits. This help is offered from the very first visit when one of our treatment coordinators meets with a new patient in a non-clinical, comfortable lounge to discuss any fears or concerns they may have. We encourage nervous patients to open up to us, to explain how they feel about dental visits and what may have caused them to develop such a high level of anxiety.
Sometimes these feelings are due to a previous bad experience, often as a child. It may be due to embarrassment if the teeth have been neglected. Whatever the reason you are nervous or anxious, we really do understand. You have no idea how satisfying it is to have the most nervous of patients complete a course of treatment. It really does build the strongest patient – dentist relationship. You learn to trust us and that is the key to helping you overcome your fear.
Communication Helps Calm Anxiety
Studies prove that the most important factor in overcoming dental anxiety is good dentist-patient communication. "It is natural for people to feel some level of anxiety when visiting a dentist," "However, if personal anxiety is preventing access to needed care, the patient should have a frank discussion with the dentist before any treatment has been started.Because they are health care professionals, dentists have been trained to treat patients who have anxiety. There are many safe and comfortable techniques available for making dental care more acceptable for anxious patients, including the use of medication."
Establishing trust and keeping patients informed and in control throughout a visit to the dentist helps calm dental anxiety. One option is for patients to use hand signals to communicate with the dentist throughout a procedure. When a patient feels uncomfortable, he or she can signal the dentist and the dentist stops the procedure. This method of communication empowers patients and makes visiting the dentist less stressful for them.
We fully understand that this first appointment is the most difficult for you to make as you will not yet have been reassured and gained confidence in the team but please be brave and make that call. Dental anxiety can be truly crippling. What we have to remember, is, that if we want good health, dental treatment is necessary. Recent studies have shown definite links between our dental health and our general health.
This means it makes our dental health even more important for us to lead healthy, happy lives. Dental anxiety can be overcome and defeated with a determined effort by dentist and patient. If you are suffering from dental anxiety, take that first step, and make an appointment to meet with us and discuss your concerns and dental issues.
We know from experience that everyone is different. The more you tell us about you, the more quickly we learn to understand what you like or don’t like. For example: Some people feel knowledge is empowering, it helps them feel in control, they want to know just what is happening and why. Others do not want to know at all, they just want Mike to get it over with as soon as possible without explanation.
Reducing Your Anxiety Levels
If you are nervous about an upcoming dental visit, here are some additional ways to curb your anxiety:
Share your fears. If you're tense or anxious, tell your dentist and the dental team. Expressing your concerns will let your dentist adapt the treatment to your needs.
Focus on breathing regularly and slowly during dental procedures. When you are nervous you tend to hold your breath, which decreases oxygen levels and further increases feelings of panic.
If the sound of the drill bothers you, bring a portable audio player and headset so you can listen to music.
Avoid caffeine before a dental appointment.
Eat high-protein foods which – unlike sugary foods – produce a calming effect.
Try to choose a time for your dental visit when you're less likely to be rushed or under pressure. For some people, that means a Saturday or an early-morning appointment.