Tips against dental anxiety
Here we explain various treatment steps to help you overcome your fear of going to the dentist.
Find a sensitive dentist
It's important to find a dentist you can trust and who is sensitive to your needs and fears. Ask friends and family for recommendations or search the internet for reviews and experiences of other patients. There are also dentists who specialise in dentistry for people with anxiety.
Tell your dentist about your fears
Before your first appointment, tell your dentist that you suffer from dental anxiety. This way you can discuss different techniques to make your appointment anxiety-free.
Use relaxation techniques
Relaxation exercises and autogenic training, such as deep breathing or meditation, can help make your visit to the dentist's office more comfortable.
These methods can help you reduce dental anxiety:
- Relaxation exercises: When you relax different muscle groups in your body, this helps to reduce stress and thus distracts you from dental anxiety.
- Breathing techniques: Focused and deep breathing can help reduce anxiety. Breathing slowly in through the nose and out through the mouth can relax the body and calm the mind.
- Mindfulness: This technique involves focusing on the present experience and avoiding worry and negative thoughts. By focusing on the present, you can let go of your fears and worries before your dental appointment and focus on positive thoughts.
- Hypnosis: With hypnosis, you reach a trance-like state in which your body relaxes. Your blood pressure and pulse are lowered and your consciousness focuses inward. A hypnotist can give you anxiety-relieving tips to promote confidence in dentistry.
- Visualisation: this technique involves imagining a beautiful or pleasant experience to evoke positive associations and thus reduce anxiety. For example, you can imagine yourself walking out of the dentist's office with a bright smile after treatment.
Distract yourself with music or films
Many dental practices offer music or films during treatment to distract patients. If your practice doesn't offer this, just ask if you can wear the headphones during treatment.
In some cases, light sedation or conscious sedation can help reduce anxiety during dental work and calm the dental patient.
There are different types of sedation. Here are some examples:
- Nitrous oxide sedation (laughing gas): This is a mild form of sedation where a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen is inhaled through a mask. This sedation puts you into twilight sleep. The advantage of nitrous oxide is that it works quickly and disappears from the body quickly after treatment.
- Oral sedation: This form of sedation involves taking prescribed medication in the form of tablets or capsules that have a sedative effect. The medication is taken before you go to the dentist to help put you at ease.
- Intravenous (IV) sedation: In this type of sedation, a sedative is injected through a vein. The advantage of IV sedation is that the dentist can adjust the sedation during treatment to ensure maximum effectiveness. However, this method is not recommended for people who are afraid of injections.
In acute cases, such as root infection or wisdom teeth removal, the procedure can also be performed under a general anaesthetic. This is performed by an anaesthetist or an anaesthetic doctor.
It is important to stress that these sedation methods should be performed by a qualified professional such as an anaesthetist or an experienced dentist. Your dentist or dental hygienist can help you choose an appropriate form of sedation and treatment plan.
A familiar person can give you peace of mind and confidence during your treatment. Take a good friend with you who will encourage you and make you feel comfortable. This will also make you feel that someone is looking out for you during treatment.
Make short appointments
If you suffer from severe dental anxiety, it can be helpful to make short appointments to gradually get used to going to the dentist and reduce your anxiety.
After each visit to the dentist, reward yourself with something you like to do or buy yourself something nice. This way you can make positive associations with going to the dentist and reduce your anxiety.