Effective Strategies for Managing Dental Anxiety


Visiting the dentist can evoke feelings of anxiety in many people. This can be a result of negative past experiences, general apprehension, fear of pain etc. But dental anxiety can prevent people from seeking dental care and treatment that is essential in maintaining optimal oral health.

There are many factors

That can trigger dental anxiety whether it is feeling vulnerable and out of control when in the dental chair or negative past experiences or being self-conscious about your teeth condition. Some people also have concerns about the cost of dental treatment and there is a fear of judgement from the dentist. But to overcome these issues you need to communicate with your dentist so that they can have a better understanding of your concerns and fears. You can contact the dental practice beforehand to ask about how the situation can be managed and whether your concerns can be heard. They will be able to explain the procedures thoroughly and reassure you during the dental visit so that you have a good idea of what to expect. There are relaxation techniques that you can learn such as meditation, deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. These exercises can help alleviate feelings of anxiety and keep you calm during the dental appointments. But you need to practice these techniques regularly so that you can reduce anxiety over time.

Distraction is also a good tool to manage dental anxiety.

You can bring some headphones so that you can listen to music while you are in the deal chair. Or you can listen to a podcast during the appointment. Another distraction technique you can do is visualising a relaxing scene so that you can shift your attention away from the current procedure. Some people tend to have persistent or severe dental anxiety and in this case, it is best to seek support from a mental health professional. You can look for a mental health professional that specialises in management of anxiety. You can benefit from evidence based approaches such as cognitive behavioural therapy and exposure therapy to overcome dental anxiety. This can help you in tolerating dental procedures more. You can also speak to your dentist about sedation options.

Sedation dentistry uses several techniques

Such as the use of oral sedatives, nitrous oxide and intravenous sedation so that a state of relaxation can be induced. This will help reduce your anxiety during the dental procedure. The most suitable sedation method can be selected once you discus your concerns with your dentist. You desensitise yourself to your fears with gradual exposure to dental stimuli. You can start visiting the dental office for short duration non-invasive procedures like dental cleaning or a consultation. You can gradually progress to more complex procedures. When you can increase exposure to dental stimuli in a controlled environment with supportive professionals, your confidence will improve. A supportive dental team can do wonders for your anxiety as they will understand and respect your anxiety. You can look for a dentist that specialises in treating anxious patients so that you can be more at ease during the appointment.

Thomas McCue
the authorThomas McCue