Mention the words, “visiting the dentist’s office” and some common responses are fear, dread, and even avoidance of the situation. Although we know the importance of oral health, all logic seems to escape us when fear is involved.

In fact, you’re in good company if you do feel afraid. A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) states that “dental anxiety, or dental fear, is estimated to affect approximately 36% of the population, with a further 12% suffering from extreme dental fear.”

Rest assured, we’re here to help you overcome the fear of your next visit to the your local family dental clinic and bring you one step closer to having optimal oral health.

Here are 5 simple tips to overcoming dental fear.

1. Acknowledge your fears

It’s ok to feel afraid. Be kind to yourself. There’s probably a good reason why you feel that way. Research is showing that some of our fears may be triggered by things such as:

  • a bad experience from your last visit to the dentist
  • the fear of pain
  • the fear of needles or drills
  • the fear of sounds of equipment
  • hearing a friend’s terrible account of going to the dentist
  • negative dental stories depicted in popular media
  • the shame of one’s oral hygiene
  • fear of embarrassment
  • fear of COVID-19

By acknowledging our fears in a healthy way, we can start moving forward with clarity and peace of mind.

2. Get the facts about a visit to the dentist

We often fear what we do not know. Getting the facts of what is involved in your visit to the dentist can help you avoid being swept away by worst case scenarios. Verifiable resources on dental health are readily available nowadays. Consider even making a phone call to the surgery receptionist to get concerns and questions addressed directly from staff that are not clinicians that work at the clinic. The truth will set you free from fear of the unknown.

3. Know the rewards of great oral health

Remind yourself that achieving great oral health is its own reward. Oral health improves general health and overall well-being. Numerous studies now indicate great oral health can even prevent more serious health problems such as chronic heart disease, atherosclerosis, strokes, and preterm low weight babies; the list of health benefits goes on. Having a great smile also improves self-esteem and social interactions too.

4. Have coping strategies in place

Having strategies in place to handle the fear of visits to the dentist can also certainly help. In doing so, one’s visit to the dentist will be a lot calmer and less traumatic. Consider strategies like:

  • deep breathing
  • meditation
  • distraction activities (such as playing music, reading an e-book, watching a movie)
  • bringing a close friend or loved one for support
  • booking a morning appointment and taking the day off

In the rare instances of dental phobia or even anxiety, seeking further assistance from a counsellor or psychologist may prove beneficial. Together with your dentist, they can help find more meaningful strategies that will be most suited to your needs.

Here at Blackburn Family Dental, we strive to create a friendly and non-threatening environment for all our patients. Here are some of the ways we can help you overcome your anxiousness:

  • Gentle and calm music will be played in the waiting room.
  • We also use calming smells such as lavender mist in the waiting room.
  • All our surgeries have access to natural lighting.
  • Our staff are friendly and chatty, and our approach is that we are here to help, not to judge.
  • Our experts explain dental procedures in a simple and non-threatening way.
  • We implement QIP accredited infection control measures.
  • Your dentist may also prescribe anxiolytic medications if appropriate to help with anxiety issues.

Further COVID-safe protocols and additional hygiene measures that we put in place include:

  • Good ventilation and HEPA air filters in every surgery.
  • All our staff are double vaccinated and temperature-checked every morning.
  • We use personal protective equipment and N95 masks or equivalent.
  • Shared spaces and waiting areas are wiped down regularly.

5. Trust yourself and your dentist

Trust works both ways. Trusting yourself and your dentist are necessary for a healthy and happy visit. Dentists for the most part are there for you and to ensure you get the best patient experience. However, not every dentist may be the right fit for your unique needs or situation.

To make this easier on you, consider asking yourself some of these questions when meeting with a dentist:

  • Do I feel comfortable with this dentist?
  • Can I trust them with my concerns?
  • Does the dentist take the time to address my needs and concerns?
  • Has the dentist created a safe, welcoming environment at the clinic?

If you’re able to answer yes to most of these questions, you’re most likely on the way to having a successful appointment and your fears alleviated.

Take the next step

Armed with all these tips, we hope you feel braver in taking your next steps in booking your next appointment, whether it’s for root canal treatment or cosmetic bonding for your teeth. Consider booking a consultation with Blackburn Family Dental, your expert family dental clinic, if you’re interested in further assistance. We hold to the highest standards of professionalism and quality, ensuring to create the best environment for your safety and well-being so your fears can be relieved.