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7 Ways for Nervous Patients to Overcome Their Dental Anxiety

30 / 08 / 2023

There are lots of jokes about how scary dentists are, and from a young age, we get these messages that dental examinations and treatments are something to fear. Of course, seeing a dentist regularly is essential for oral and general health; plus, we’ll help keep your smile looking great. 

But dental anxiety is a very real problem, and it’s something many people experience. Whether you’ve had a phobia since a young age or developed one following a bad experience, these fears are enough to prevent you from getting the care you need. 

We often see patients with severe dental problems who have been scared to visit for checkups or minor treatments. But we understand that it takes a lot to build the courage to visit us when you have a dental phobia. 

In this guide, we’ll share seven of the most effective ways to combat your dental anxiety and reclaim the health of your smile. 

1. Talk to Us About Your Fears

Dentists are human, and we understand the fears and emotions associated with something you’re uncomfortable with. We’ve also helped countless patients get the care they need. 

Of course, your anxiety may not be centred around the same thing as the next patient. For this reason, we don’t make assumptions or treat everyone the same way. 

If it’s been a while since your last appointment, talking to us about your fears is a great first step to overcoming them. If we know about any specific worries you may have, we can often help minimise your anxieties. 

We often discuss ways to communicate feelings of anxiety with us ahead of examinations or procedures. Knowing you have a way to let us know you need to take a break can stop you panicking. 

2. Use Positive Reinforcement

Gradual exposure to something you’re scared of can give you more confidence around it. By making small, controlled first steps, you can have positive experiences that help you gradually change your mindset. 

Even just visiting the practice to sit in our waiting room, meet the team, or see the clinic are steps that can help desensitise you.  

3. Come to See Us At Quiet Times

When you’re already feeling anxious, a busy waiting room can tip you into irritability or panic. Although we do everything to maintain a relaxed practice, talk to our team and book your first appointment with us at the quietest time of day. 

4. Bring a Friend

You don’t have to come alone. Bringing a friend, partner, or family member can often be a big help. Choose someone you know well and that understands you’re anxious. Ideally, pick someone supportive. 

5. Bring Distractions

If you feel anxious about something, it’s often all you can think about. The more you think about it, the worse you’ll feel. Distractions can help break the cycle of anxiety. Bring something you can listen to music with. Noise-cancelling headphones are useful as they really block out unwanted sounds. 

Some patients like to listen to music, audiobooks, or podcasts as it takes their minds away from what’s happening around them. 

6. Breathe Deep and Use Mindfulness

Anxiety is a product of our nervous systems. It’s the “fight or flight!” instinct that’s triggered when we perceive we’re in a dangerous situation. Your body gets a rush of adrenaline; your heart beats faster, and blood is diverted from your brain to your muscles. 

Taking several slow, deep breaths will help reset your nervous system. Slowing your breathing and heart rate gradually removes you from the panicked state. 

Practice deep breathing exercises ahead of your appointment and learn grounding techniques to shift your focus away from anxious worries.

7. Consider Getting Further Help

It can take time to overcome some phobias. While there’s lots you can do to manage your anxiety yourself, getting the right support can get to the root of the problem quicker. Speak to your GP or find a counsellor. With medication or therapy, you may find it easier to work through your fears. 

Caring Dentistry at GM Dental 

If you’re nervous about coming to see us for a checkup or treatment, we can help. Our caring and supportive team are here to make you feel more at ease. We understand how hard it can be, and we’ll take things at your pace. 

Get in touch with our friendly staff today and book your appointment.

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