Did you know that dental anxiety is very common? Some studies show that dental anxiety is about 20%, but in some age groups it can be as high as 50% or more depending on their past experiences at the dentist.
Anxiety over coming to the dentist can be caused by the treatment, the fear of injections, past experiences, shame of your teeth or even the cost of treatment.
What can I do if I have dental anxiety?
If you have dental anxiety, you aren’t alone and it is nothing to be ashamed of. We are here to help you, and our passion is helping you through the personal challenge of coming to the dentist.
There are some tips to help make coming to the dentist less stressful that you might like to try for your next visit to us..
- Make sure you tell the person that is treating you so they can help as much as possible. Is there something in specific that you don’t like, is it the sounds? Is it laying back? Sometimes we can try to eliminate or reduce the things that you are fearful of.
- Don’t wait until you are in pain to come. When you are in pain, you are already feeling on edge, overwhelmed and in discomfort. Treatment options are usually more drastic, so it’s like diving straight into the deep end. We are then able to consider what treatment needs to be done, and plan how you would feel most comfortable having that achieved. Did you know we can offer sedation? Unfortunately, intravenous sedation (known as twilight sedation) needs to be organised prior with an anesthetist but is a great option if you are truly terrified as you will have no memory of the procedure.
- Have someone drive you or bring a support person. Some people feel too overwhelmed to even write forms on the day.
- If you would like to, you can wait outside until your appointment.
- Some people find having someone else book the appointment so you don’t worry about it or stress about it can help, or if you do, some people find morning appointments are better for them so that they have less time to worry about it on the day.
What Options Do I have If I need Treatment?
If you need treatment, we have the following options depending on the severity of your anxiety..
- Taking things slowly, working through the anxiety and gradually building your confidence up
- ‘Happy Gas’ (Nitrous Oxide Sedation) – this just helps you to focus on your breathing and relaxes you slightly. It wears off instantly and you can drive straight away afterwards. When we describe it to children we say that it makes the butterflies in their tummy go to their hands and feet and sometimes they can start to feel a little bit tingly instead. You do not say silly things and can openly communicate with us through the procedure, should you want to discuss anything. For many people, this is enough. We are able to provide this every day in the clinic and all dentists are trained to administer the gas.
- Intravenous sedation (IV) – during this twilight sedation, you will be very drowsy. You do not say anything bad and most people do not remember the treatment that they receive. A GP anesthetist provides sedation and we provide the dentistry services. As a third party does the sedation this is not something we are able to provide on the day and must be pre organised. You are unable to drive afterwards and will need someone to supervise you as you recover (become less drowsy).
The most important thing to remember though, is you are in control and we will always treat you with respect and acknowledge your needs and wishes.
We recommend coming in for a first appointment to meet the dentist and discuss your concerns, treatment needs and treatment goals. Usually we try to do a check-up at this first appointment and take any x-rays that are required. We can discuss payment options, such as a payment plan to help reduce your stress as well. Many people find coming to the dentist isn’t actually as bad as they think it was going to be.