New Year’s Resolution: How to Overcome Dental Anxiety and Get the Care You Need

Jan 16, 2023 | General Dentistry, Nervous Patients

As the new year begins, we’re sure some of you have made resolutions to improve your health and well-being in 2023. This may mean finally tackling your dental anxiety and seeking the dental care and support you need. Dental anxiety is a common fear that can prevent individuals from visiting the dentist, leading to poor oral health and potentially more severe health problems. 

Dental anxiety can develop for many reasons, including a previous negative experience at the dentist, adverse childhood memories, fear of pain or needles, or a general fear of the unknown. Whatever the cause, we want you to understand that dental anxiety is a common and normal feeling. Still, regular dental visits are crucial for maintaining good oral and overall health. Neglecting your dental health can lead to problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, and even heart disease. 

If you struggle with dental anxiety, you’re not alone. In fact, it is estimated that up to 20% of the Irish population suffers from fear or anxiety when visiting the dentist (Irish Dental Association). However, there are ways to overcome this fear and get the care you need for a beautiful smile.

Here are some of our tips on how to overcome dental anxiety:


#1 Find a Dental Team That You Trust and Feel Comfortable With


One of the most significant factors in overcoming dental anxiety is finding a dental team you feel comfortable around. Look for a dentist and dental staff who are patient, understanding, and willing to listen to your concerns. Finding a dental office that offers amenities such as blankets, pillows, or headphones can also help you feel more relaxed.  

If you struggle with dental anxiety, you’ll be relieved to know at Shields Dental & Orthodontic Clinics; we prioritise your comfort and care. Our team is highly trained in sedation techniques and is dedicated to creating a welcoming and compassionate environment. From the moment you enter our comfortable waiting room to the end of your treatment, you’ll feel at ease with our friendly team. We understand that visiting the dentist can be nerve-wracking, so we go above and beyond to make you feel comfortable and cared for.

If you need help finding the best dentist, we suggest asking friends or family members for recommendations or searching online for dentists in your area. Feel free to visit our clinics and meet with one of our friendly Treatment Coordinators to ask questions. For us, the most important thing is that you choose a dental team that you feel confident with and can trust.  


#2 Talk to Your Dentist About Your Anxiety


Communication is key when it comes to overcoming dental anxiety. Don’t be afraid to tell your dentist about your fears and concerns. Together, you can develop strategies to help you feel more at ease during your visit. This may include numbing agents, taking breaks during the procedure, or asking your dentist to talk through the treatment with you. 

Your dentist should understand and be willing to address your concerns. If you feel your dentist is not taking your anxiety seriously, it may be time to find a new dental team. Don’t let your fear stop you from getting the care and treatment you deserve. 


#3 Consider Alternative Treatments


If certain treatments make you uneasy, especially after a terrible childhood experience visiting the dentist, alternative options may be available. Adverse childhood memories of the dentist usually stem from outdated practices and equipment. Modern dentistry has come a long way in the last few years to allow us to deliver pain-free methods. We’ll always search for a less invasive and pain-free procedure that works for your case. Another option is sedation, which uses medications and IV sedation to help you relax during your visit. Have a chat with us before any procedure so we can tailor your treatment. Find out more about how sedation dentistry can help you.


#4 Practice Relaxation Techniques


Sedation not for you? Don’t worry – there are a wide number of relaxation techniques that can help you manage anxiety and stress. Some excellent relaxation options include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualisation. Try these techniques at home before your dental appointment to see which ones work best. You can also bring headphones and listen to calming music or guided meditation during your visit. 


#5 Take Care of Your Oral Health at Home


While regular dental visits are essential, taking care of your oral health at home is also important. This includes brushing and flossing twice daily, using mouthwash, and avoiding sugary and acidic foods. By maintaining good oral hygiene, you are less likely to require extensive dental treatments, which ensures you feel confident during your visits. 


#6 Seek Support


If you’re struggling with dental anxiety, it can be valuable to seek support from friends, family, or a therapist. These individuals can provide emotional support and help you find coping mechanisms to manage your anxiety. You can join a support group or online community for individuals with dental anxiety to share your experiences and find encouragement. We’re also happy for you to bring a friend or family member to the procedure with you. 


#7 Take Small Steps


If the thought of an entire dental appointment is overwhelming, consider taking small steps. This might include visiting the dentist or hygienist for a simple teeth cleaning or consultation. Gradually getting used to the dentist’s chair and environment can help you build up your tolerance and confidence.


#8 Use Positive Self-Talk


It’s natural to have negative thoughts about visiting the dentist, but it’s important to try and reframe these thoughts in a positive light. Try to focus on the benefits of dental care and how it can improve your quality of life. Remind yourself that the dental team is there to help you and that regular dental care is necessary for your overall health. 


#9 Reward Yourself


Treating yourself to something special after a visit to the dentist can help you associate positive feelings with dental care. This could be as simple as indulging in your favourite food or activity.


#10 Remember That You Are Not Alone


As we’ve already said, dental anxiety is a common fear, and you are not alone. Many people struggle to visit the dentist, but by taking the ever-so-important steps in managing it and seeking the care you need, you can overcome this anxiety and achieve better oral health. 

Overcoming dental anxiety is not easy, but it is possible. By following these tips and discovering the best support mechanisms, you can take the first step towards better oral health and healthier overall well-being. Don’t let fear hold you back from getting the care you need – make this the year you overcome dental anxiety and prioritise your oral health.


Are You a Nervous Patient Searching for a New Dentist? Contact Us at Shields Dental & Orthodontic Clinic in Limerick, Roscrea & Blackrock.


If you’re looking for a new dentist that understands your needs as a nervous patient, contact our friendly reception team online or by calling us at 061 539041.

If you’re an existing patient at one of our clinics, book an appointment online

On your first visit to our clinic, you’ll have time to get acquainted and get to know the team in our comfortable surroundings. This is where we’ll learn about your general health and well-being and your dental requirements. So that we have the “whole picture” – please inform us about any of your needs, especially those relating to dental anxiety. We can’t wait to meet you!

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