The following article about dental anxiety has been written by Perth psychologist Rebecca Glorrie. Rebecca is a registered psychologist and qualified Gestalt Therapist.
What symptoms define dental anxiety?
Does the mere mention of the word ‘dentist’ make you feel faint?
Do needles, drills and other dental equipment trigger anxiety symptoms such as an increase in heart rate and sweaty palms?
Do you experience a feeling of nervousness just by being in the dental setting?
Do you put off dental check-ups and procedures, no matter how simple or complex?
If you answered yes to some or all of these questions, you may be experiencing something called dental anxiety.
What is dental anxiety?
The term dental anxiety is used to describe fear, anxiety, or stress in a dental setting. As a result of dental anxiety dental treatment may be delayed or avoided altogether.
Most of know how important regular dental check-ups and treatment are. Most dental disease is lifestyle related and preventable. Avoiding the dentist often results in a great need for more complex treatment. Avoided the dentist also feeds the dental anxiety so let’s see how this can be addressed in a more constructive way.
Management of dental anxiety
Anxiety symptoms occur as a result of your fight or flight response being activated. One simple but effective way of calming this response is the use of deep breathing. Try the following steps:
- Breathe in slowly for the count of four
- Hold your breath for the count of two
- Breathe out for the count of six
Repeat these steps for 2-3 minutes.
Deep breathing is best practiced several times a day. Try it initially when you are not feeling stressed or anxious, that way it will come more naturally at times of distress.
Addressing anxious thoughts
Even if you aren’t aware of them, your brain will love to hook you into some difficult thoughts about attending the dentist.
“I can’t do this”
“I’m not going to be able to cope with the pain”
“What if the pain gets so bad that I can’t handle it”
And so on…
There are many ways of learning how to unhook from these thoughts which fuel your anxiety unnecessarily. A Psychologist is trained in these strategies and a few sessions can be very helpful to address your anxious thoughts and feelings.
The Superior Smile difference
If you do experience any level of dental anxiety it’s important that you let your dentist know. If you decide to book an appointment with Superior Smiles you are in great hands. Their staff are aware of this condition and have many options available to you to make your time with them as comfortable as possible. These options include:
Attention to the customer experience
The staff at Superior Smiles pay close attention to each and every one of their customers experience. Thorough examinations are performed and you will be provided with options for treatment given the findings of these results. The staff at Superior Smiles provide a professional but gentle hand to all treatments and patients are offered as many breaks as required during this time.
This enables you to have dental procedures performed while under a sedative that is injected before the treatment commences.
If you would like to read more about this option click here our page on Sleep Dentistry & Sedation Dentistry.
Other options for dental anxiety?
Dental anxiety is common and can affect people of any age. As discussed, there are many options for treatment and many ways the staff and Superior Smiles can make your experience less stressful and more comfortable.
If you are interested in knowing more about the psychological strategies discussed in this article, I would love to hear from you. You can contact me here rebeccaglorie.com.