Dental Dread – Fighting Tooth & Nail To Overcome A Dentist Phobia



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A dislike for the dentist’s chair is not uncommon. For many people, the sights, smells and sounds of a dental surgery are not something to be enjoyed or cherished. For those suffering a dental phobia, the act of visiting a dentist for a routine check-up or filling becomes the source of crippling anxiety, and can significantly impact upon their quality of life.

The following paragraphs are directed at the latter cohort – in the hope that there is a better way to alleviate this anxiety, and cure the associated phobia.

Do Your Homework

Successfully finding a dentist to entrust with your ongoing dental health and hygiene is the same as any other costly undertaking – results are at their best when you do your homework. A small time investment to research any dental professional or office you’re considering will reward you in the long term — especially if you need complex, or specialised work completed.

Dentists (such as this Bentleigh dental practice) are also opting to invest in technology which promises less painful injections – one of the more common reasons that many of us experience trepidation about the prospect of an upcoming dental appointment. It’s worth doing some research to find out if your chosen dentist uses any technology or techniques which will enhance your comfort and lead to decreased anxiety for any future or follow-up visits.

Don’t Catastrophize – Strategize!

Phobias and anxieties can often lead to destructive and pervasive thought patterns, including the tendency towards catastrophizing. In its most basic form, catastrophizing consists of visualising the most negative outcomes possible in a given situation, even when they’re uncommon, unlikely or unwarranted.

A better way to deal with any deep-seated (or lingering) dental anxiety is through strategising the entire process. Instead of focusing on the emotional repercussions of a negative outcome, strategizing uses rational thinking to put in place practical work-arounds which can help guide you through any unlikely turmoil.

For example; if you’re anxious about pain, research pain management strategies. Your dentist might offer topical anaesthetic on top of local anaesthetic, or they might offer ‘laughing gas’ (nitrous oxide) or oral sedation (medications such as Diazepam). If this is an option you’re hoping to select, discuss it in with your dentist before your appointment to make sure that it will proceed as smoothly as possible on the day of your appointment.

Communication Is King (And Queen)

Some frequently-touted advice is that ‘communication is the key’ to overcoming a dental phobia – and there’s a good reason for this. Having open, direct communication with your dentist will allow both you and them to make any necessary adjustments to your treatments in order to create the most anxiety-free (and even pleasant) experience possible.

Be honest with your dentist. If you’ve had a bad experience in the past, outline what happened, and try to explain why it made you feel anxious or upset. A good dentist will be able to walk you through how they would approach a similar situation, and can help you to feel more at ease with their experience and expertise. Alternately, they can also let you know of any misconceptions or misunderstandings that you may have experienced.

Establishing good communication habits with your dentist will help to ensure an honest, open and trusting relationship can develop, and can ultimately be the difference between a nightmare experience and a dream dental date.

Find The Source

For those with truly hardy phobias and anxieties, it may be necessary to spend some time working through these fears with a professional counsellor. Professional counsellors can offer new ways of thinking and tips for managing any blossoming anxiety before it affects your quality of life.

Counsellors can help you to identify the source of your dental anxieties (for example; it could be related to expected pain, expense, or perceived shame) and will work together with you to create strategies to overcome the source of the anxiety. Depending on your location and individual circumstance, this service may even be free or heavily subsidised.

Dental phobias can seem impossible to manage, and often go untreated due to factors of cost or anxiety. By addressing some of the root causes of your phobia, and creating manageable workarounds for potential problems, you can bite back – and hopefully be on the path towards a healthier, less anxious future.



I'm a mother of 2 who likes to get involved in too much! Besides writing here I started a non-profit, I'm on the PTO board, very active in my community and volunteer in the school. I enjoy music, reading, cooking, traveling and spending time with my family. We just adopted our 3rd cat and love them all!

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