overcoming dental anxiety

Do you have a fear of dental treatments? Whether you have a phobia of needles, of dentistry in general or another related anxiety, avoiding routine dental care can put your oral health at risk.[1]

Dentists understand that many people experience dental anxiety. When you talk to your dentist about your concerns, they may be able to recommend solutions and put your mind at ease so you don't have to miss out on the treatments you need to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

When is dental anxiety a problem?

Around one in six Australians have dental anxiety, while 5% of people have more severe dental phobia. This can lead to some people delaying or cancelling appointments with their dentist.[1]

A major focus of dentistry is prevention – trying to stop oral health problems from developing in the first place. If you avoid your regular check-ups, any signs of possible problems may go undiagnosed until they have already developed and may need more intensive treatment. Regular hygiene treatments such as teeth cleaning and fluoride also help to protect teeth against plaque and decay.[1]

How can dentists help?

Being honest about your feelings will help your dentist to understand your situation so they can offer a more relaxing experience. You should also try to find a dental clinic that you feel more comfortable and confident visiting. Ways your dentist can help you to overcome dental anxiety include:

Relaxing surroundings

Unlike the clinical environments of the past, many modern dental clinics are designed to help put patients at ease. Comfortable seating, pleasant decor and even aromatherapy oils and soothing music help to create an experience more like a spa than a surgery. Some clinics allow patients to watch TV or listen to music as a distraction while their treatment is underway.

Caring bedside manner

As well as checking that your dentist is qualified and experienced, you should also choose a professional you feel comfortable with. Dentists, hygienists and other clinic staff should make you feel welcome, be happy to answer questions and give you all the information you need at every stage so you're never in the dark. By talking to your dentist about your fears, they may be able to adjust your treatment accordingly.

Sedation dentistry

If you're happy to go ahead with you dental check-up, clean or other treatment, but you still feel nervous, your dentist may discuss sedation options they offer. Sedatives may only be provided by a qualified professional endorsed by the Dental Board of Australia.[2]

Conscious sedation helps patients to feel calm and relaxed while still being awake and able to respond to their dentist, although you may not remember much about the experience afterwards. Different types of sedation can affect your recovery period in different ways, and your dentist will make sure you understand the possible side-effects so you can make a decision you're happy with.

At Tewantin Dental Centre in Noosa, we offer inhalation sedation (also called happy gas) to help people feel calm during cleans and treatments. If you want to know more, please ask our friendly team about our sedation options when you make your appointment.

Talk to a dentist in Noosa

If you're due for a check-up or you want to speak to a Noosa dentist about anything that's on your mind, contact Tewantin Dental Centre today.

Call us on (07) 3485 0612 or make an appointment online.

References

[1] Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health. Dental fear and anxiety: Information for Dental
Practitioners [Online] March 2016 [Accessed October 2018] Available from:
https://www.adelaide.edu.au/arcpoh/dperu/special/dfa/Dental_Fear_Professional.pdf

[2] Australian Dental Association. Policy Statement 6.17 – Conscious Sedation in Dentistry [Online] 2016
[Accessed October 2018] Available from: https://www.ada.org.au/Dental-Professionals/Policies/Dental-
Practice/6-17-Conscious-Sedation-in-Dentistry/ADAPolicies_6-
17_ConsciousSedationinDentistry_V1.aspx