For some people it’s the smell of disinfectant, for others it’s the sound of the drill. For many it’s the anticipation of being stuck in a chair near scary looking metal instruments. Dental fear is more common than you think, and it’s something that prevents people from seeking out care, often until a problem is too advanced or difficult to treat. If you’re one of the many Australians with ‘dental chair anxiety’ we want to help you address your fears, starting today. Here are four tips to reduce your fear, so you can get the dental care you need:
Tip Number 1: Ask Questions
For most people, a fear of the dentist comes from not knowing what’s going to happen, or when and why. A good dentist will understand your concerns, and take the time to talk you through your upcoming procedure so you know what to expect. They will also explain what tools they will be using, and why, so you aren’t taken by surprise by anything while in the chair and unable to speak.
Tip Number 2: Have a Signal
Feeling overwhelmed by the sights, smells and sounds you’re experiencing while in the chair? Establish a nonverbal signal, for example, simply raising your finger, with your dentist that tells them you need them to stop for a moment so that you can catch your breath.
Tip Number 3: Breathe
This might seem obvious, but when we are anxious we can unconsciously begin experiencing rapid, shallow breathing. When this happens, we naturally feel more anxious. Try and practice controlled breathing techniques by slowly inhaling and exhaling to the count of five. This will get your breathing under control.
Tip Number 4: Find a dentist that works WITH you
This is the most important tip and one that can even make the previous three unnecessary. A great dentist will understand the anxiety you experience and will be willing to make suggestions and changes to lessen your discomfort. This can include everything from letting you witness the procedure beforehand with another patient,to offering you alternative pain treatments to reduce your discomfort.
It’s your right to be respected by your dentist, and if you aren’t happy with how they’re approaching your anxiety, there are many who out there who will make the effort to put you at ease!
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