Going to the dentist isn’t often called a pleasant experience; I’ve met some curious and calm people who enjoy talking with medical professionals and feeling the sensation from a good cleaning, and these folks seem to enjoy their time with us well enough. Most people consider going to the dentist a chore, a bit unpleasant, but necessary. There’s a group of people, though, who loathe going to the dentist; it makes them nervous, anxious and afraid. There are a lot of reasons for these feelings; maybe they’ve experienced pain at the dentist, or perhaps they mistrust the medical profession. This blog is for those people.
I understand that you’re afraid, and I understand why. The first thing you need to remember is that it’s alright to feel afraid, but you still need to come in regularly for a visit. There’s a vicious cycle of dental anxiety you need to be aware of, and it looks something like this: when you don’t go to the dentist, your oral health gets progressively worse. When your oral health gets worse, you might need emergency intervention. Emergency intervention is probably the worst and scariest part of dental care, so if you’re only coming in for emergencies, you’re going to hate going to the dentist. That means you won’t come in, and the cycle repeats, while your oral health gets worse and worse.
This vicious cycle is so pernicious that managing patient anxiety has become a focus of the dentist’s handbook; we really do care about your health, so we don’t want you to be afraid. We’ve developed a few techniques to boost your spirits; we’ll talk you through the procedures, explain your oral health to you in detail, and answer any questions you might ask. We can play calming music, give you relaxation techniques and breathing exercises, and even offer sedation to help you have a more pleasant experience. The key here is that you have to tell us about your anxiety. Fear, for a host of evolutionary and cultural reasons, is something we don’t like to talk about, but we can’t help you if we don’t know you’re afraid. We can guess, we can try to feel and empathize, but the best way is to be told before an appointment “I am anxious about this appointment and I’ll need some help managing my fears”. That way, we can come up with a plan, together.
Fear can stem from a bad experience with a particular practitioner; like with all professionals, from hairdressers to accountants, if you don’t click with your dentist or feel respected, you should try another dentist. We’re proud to have experienced dentists who with empathize with you and address your needs and concerns; book an appointment with us and we’ll help you work through your dental anxiety and better your health.
A final point we need to address is children. Our kids pick up on our emotions; when we laugh, they do, when we cry, they do, and when we feel anxious you better believe they’ll feel there’s something to be anxious about. The Canadian Dental Association recommends that if you have dental anxiety and children, you should have another adult take them to their appointment, so the anxiety doesn’t become cross-generational.