Overcoming the Anxiety of a Dental Appointment

January 21, 2015

More than half of all Canadians have anxiety about dental appointments. That anxiety can be so intense many people avoid seeing a dentist completely. If this is you, recognize that you are not alone. That’s why today’s training in the dental profession includes techniques to minimize patient discomfort with a variety of available options.

Let’s also recognize that avoiding or delaying dental care can be more painful, both financially and for one’s overall health. Further, regular dental hygiene visits can protect against periodontal disease which can lead to serious infections, stroke, heart disease and even some cancers. Canadians also tell us that maintaining their teeth for a lifetime of service really matters to them. So, here are some thoughts on how to overcome that dental appointment anxiety so many of us experience.

1. Identify your anxiety concerns in advance with a member of our reception team or treatment coordinator.

Every member of the Santé/Highbury Dental team knows that patient anxieties take many forms and it is important to listen and understand each individual concern. Knowing the nature of your anxiety gives our hygienists and dentists the information they need to help them ease your concern.

2. Take advantage of pain-relief treatment options.

Santé & Highbury Dental offer a variety of sedation choices, which are typically covered by most insurance benefit programs. Options include nitrous oxide, which wears off soon after treatment, or conscious sedation which requires a designated driver after the procedure. For any treatment requiring a needle, rub-on benzocaine dulls the gum to eliminate the pain of the prick. There is further technology available that doesn’t generate the heat, vibration or pressure typically associated with drills. Know that the Santé/Highbury Dental team cares about every aspect of your comfort so be sure to ask us what is available.

3. Plan to be calmed.

There are many ways you can help yourself to a positive patient experience. With today’s mobile devices you can bring your favourite music. For pre-appointment preparation, dab a little essential oil like camomile or lavender on your temples and pulse points. Bring a heated neck wrap or squeezable stress ball to distract. And while in the chair, practice slow, deep breathing to counteract your body’s ‘fight or flight’ stress response.

4. Don’t self-medicate; come clean.

It is important for patients to avoid taking pain-relief into their own hands. Adding the unknown wild-card of a self-medicated patient to a dental appointment is not a good idea. It is much better for the patient to be honest, explain their fears up front so your dentist or hygienist can work to eliminate them.

Following these easy tips will go a long way to reducing anxieties. It allows your Santé/Highbury Dental team deliver exceptional, pain-free care, saving your dental – and whole body health.