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Dental Anxiety

It’s common to feel a bit nervous about visiting the dentist. For some people though, it’s a lot more than just nerves.

Dental anxiety is very real. Don't worry though, we understand and we're here to help. There can be a number of reasons why you feel anxious about a dental appointment. You may have built up a fear of dentists from your past experiences. Perhaps you have a significant procedure booked, such as a root canal. Maybe it's been a while between appointments and you’re worried about the state of your teeth.

We want you to feel as comfortable as possible. Talk to us about how you’re feeling and let us know if it’s more than just the usual few nerves for you. We will do everything we can to make you comfortable.

Symptoms of dental anxiety

Dental anxiety comes in many forms. It can range from feeling nervous and having some physical reactions while preparing to visit the dentist, right through to more severe dental phobia. This may show itself in extreme behaviour to avoiding a dental appointment or noticeable symptoms such as insomnia, nausea and shortness of breath immediately prior to, and during an appointment.

Children can also experience dental anxiety. Physical reactions and emotional distress can make trying to visit the dentist with a child quite challenging.

Causes of dental anxiety

Past experience at the dentist is a major cause of dental anxiety. Lots of us even say we 'hate' the dentist. Childhood memories of the 'murder house' is often where it starts. Built-up fear can make it hard for some people to relax during an appointment. It’s good to know that dentistry has changed a lot over the years. Current treatments, procedures, equipment and techniques are now relatively painless and fast.

Dental anxiety in children can come more from an irrational fear or just general worries about the experience ahead. Young children haven’t been to the dentist enough to build up an experience-based concerns, but they can develop an intense fear about what will happen, what the surroundings will be like and what the dentist will be like.

Coping with dental anxiety

Being anxious about visiting the dentist is common and nothing to be ashamed about. We recommend talking about how you’re feeling with your dentist. It's also useful to talk about it with supportive family members and friends. Being prepared and understanding what will happen at an appointment can go a long way to helping your nerves.

Give us a call and we can help you prepare. We also recommend regular visits to your dentist and hygienist as that can help you feel more comfortable. If you wait to visit until you are in pain or have serious dental problems, it can make your anxiety worse. If your dental anxiety is particularly severe, sedation may be an option. Let our dentists who understand dental trauma, guide you through your anxiety and discuss your treatment options.

Get prepared

When you book at one of our dental practices for a treatment and you experience dental anxiety, you want to be reassured about what’s ahead. We get that. It’s useful to have a think about what your dentist will need to know to diagnose and treat you. That way, your appointment will go as smoothly and fast as possible.

Generally your dentist will ask you about your medical history and then thoroughly examine your mouth, teeth, gums, jaw, tongue, throat, sinuses, ears, nose and neck. You may also need an x-ray, depending on what your dentist suspects might be the cause of your problem.

Your dentist will ask you some questions about your teeth and any pain you may have such as:

  • Are you experiencing any pain?
  • How severe is the pain?
  • Where do you feel the pain?
  • What is your normal dental routine?
  • What is your diet like?

Think about your answers to these questions before your appointment. Being prepared can speed up the diagnosis.

Have questions?

The price of assessing and treating your oral health depends on what issues you may have and what is causing any conditions that are present. Toothache and other problems can be a symptom of something serious, so we recommend that you see a dentist to check it out. Your dentist will be able to diagnose the cause and advise you about the cost of treatment. When you book online for a check-up, treatment or toothache, simply select the appropriate appointment.

Yes, it is. It may be something you’ve had since a child or it may have developed recently. People experience dental anxiety for a range of reasons. You might have a fear of pain associated with the dentist or a fear of injections. Or you may fear feeling helpless or losing control. Experiencing self-consciousness is also associated with dental anxiety. The good news is, you can manage these feelings. Talk to your dentist about how you are feeling and they will help you with some practical ways to ensure you have a good experience at your next appointment.

Dental anxiety can come from a number of places. It is often due to previous negative experiences at the dentist. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many people experience anxiety about visiting the dentist. If your anxiety is particularly exaggerated, there are ways we can help. Talk to us about preparing for an appointment. We can help you with natural techniques through to sedation options.

Talk to your dentist about how your child is feeling. They will offer some helpful advice about preparing your child. They may also have some great ideas about making an appointment more comfortable for your child. At home and prior to a visit, help to get your child ready by practising deep-breathing exercises and positive affirmation. There are some wonderful books available about visiting the dentist too. Discussing a reward for after an appointment can be another great way to help your child.

It is possible to have an oral sedative to help you relax for a dental appointment. Talk to your dentist about the options. If you are sedated for an appointment, you will need to bring someone with you who can drive you home afterwards. It may be that after having sedation at one or two appointments, your anxiety starts to reduce and you may feel more relaxed about visiting the dentist in the future.

We get it. We’re New Zealand’s largest group of dentists so we’ve seen more scared patients than any other dental practice in the country. For most people who are scared about visiting the dentist it’s because they’ve had a bad experience in the past. Relax. Our gentle and compassionate dentists understand how you feel. Whether you’re anxious or worried about experiencing more pain or the potential cost of the treatment, the best thing to do is to let us know how you feel. Making sure you feel comfortable is part of our job.

We believe that you can learn to manage your dental anxiety. Talking about how you’re feeling can help. Being prepared and understanding what goes on in an appointment or treatment can also help alleviate your nerves. Taking good care of your oral health and having regular appointments with your dentist is also a good idea.

We recommend daily healthy habits and regular visits to the dentist. For optimum oral health:

  • Practice good oral hygiene habits at home including brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day
  • Book hygiene visits with an oral hygienist or oral health therapist twice each year
  • Book routine exam and x-rays visits with your dentist once each year

The Lumino Dental Plan is a cost-effective way to ensure your oral health is given the priority it deserves. It’s an affordable ongoing subscription plan that keeps you on top of your oral health. We know that when you look after your oral health properly with regular preventative care, you’ll be less likely to need to see a dentist in an emergency. You’re also likely to spend less money at the dentist over time.

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