Do you fear going to the dentist? Does the thought of drills, scraping, needles or probing make you cringe with anxiety? If so, you’re not alone. It’s reported that somewhere between 10% to 20% of the North American population avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear. That means that another significant amount goes anyway, but with some trepidation. Whether you’re putting off a dental visit, or are coming in with heightened levels of nervousness, we want to help here at Triadent Dental in Ottawa. Going to the Ottawa dentist doesn’t have to be a negative experience. Here are some tips on how to approach your next visit like a champ, as well as what you can find at Triadent that will make your visit less anxiety-ridden and more comfortable.
Why Do Dental Visits Cause Anxiety?
Anxiety and fear are, of course, emotions. That’s not the say that they lack any basis in logic. In fact, it’s perfectly reasonable to have these fears. Nobody likes having their mouth probed, poked, scraped and so on. Some people feel this as an invasion of personal space – even though we know why it’s being done. Others are more sensitive to the discomfort that can come along with the dentist experience. Making matters worse, however, is the anticipation of these things. The dental clinic experience itself tends to be over in an hour or less, but the days or weeks leading up to the office visit are often filled with angst and dread. Some people make an appointment, then end up cancelling or simply not showing up. That’s pretty much the textbook definition of a phobia: an intense fear that causes unwanted feelings and results in avoidance.
Unfortunately, avoiding the dentist won’t make your dental health issues get better or go away. On the contrary, as we all know (on a logical level), putting off that dental appointment only heightens the likelihood of problems. That’s the irony of this fear (among many others): avoiding the ‘problem’ only leads to more and bigger problems down the road. In dental terms, that means you could end up with conditions and procedures that you could have avoided, things such as cavities, gum disease, root canal, and much more. Wouldn’t facing those things in the future be much worse than facing your fears now? Taking the first step is the hardest part, but we want to help you do just that.
Working Through Your Fear of the Dentist
The first step in dealing with any problem is admitting that the problem exists. Once you’ve done that – and presumably you have, if you’re reading this – the rest is a matter of applying logical steps and some coping techniques. The key is to have an open mind, and to find what works for you.
- There’s no shame in admitting your fear of the dentist. Nobody other than you has to know. It does help, however, if you share this with us; we will discreetly work with you to ensure that your discomfort is minimized. (more on this later)
- Do your homework.
Facts and figures will be your friend, all under the umbrella of logic and reason. Find out about the procedure(s) you’ll be experiencing. Knowledge is power. Knowing what you’ll encounter along the way (no surprises) and why it’s being done can give great assurance that everything will be okay.
- The fear of dentist visits is deeply-rooted in history. Fortunately, dental technique and technology have advanced greatly over the years. What one involved “barbaric” and “sadistic” looking tools has evolved into a much less painful, far more comfortable experience.
- As you imagine the various images and sounds, try to focus on the positive. Think about what humans are capable of enduring (as your parents, grandparents et al had to endure in their day), then remember the fears and obstacles you’ve overcome to get where you are today. Surely a short (relatively, in big picture) visit to the dentist isn’t going to get you down?! Before and during the dental visit, many people find it helpful to think about a “happy place,” and keep a mental focus on that place. If you have the will, nothing and nobody can take you from that place.
- Pain management is also important. Some patients are experiencing tooth or gum pain before coming in; that’s why they’ve made an appointment. While we can’t say that the procedure itself will be 100% pain-free, it’s important to keep in mind that the purpose of the process is to work through pain, addressing it at the source, with the end goal to eliminate the issue that’s causing the pain. Meanwhile, do what you can to shift your focus away from the pain and onto something else. Many people find success in breathing techniques, meditation, and similar practices. Lots of patients like to listen to music while they’re in the chair. We most definitely encourage this. Find what works for you, and do more of it.
- Identify the psychological issues that you associate with dental visits. If a dental appointment is a “trigger” for anxiety, that’s important for you to know. You could be experiencing deeper issues – beyond pain or discomfort itself – are invasion of personal space, loss of control, or other reasonable issues commonly seen in this realm. That’s okay. Again, what’s important is that you identify and accept these issues, then find ways to work through them. While we’re not formally trained in that field, we’ve seen our share of patients who deal with various issues.
- Find others who’ve gone through similar issues. You are not alone. Perhaps you can talk to a friend or family member about how they cope with dental visits. There’s even an online forum dedicated to this, called Dental Fear Central. People share all kinds of information and techniques that help them get through the whole experience. See? You’re definitely not alone.
How Can Triadent Dental Help You?
At Triadent, we want your experience to be as comfortable and stress-free as possible. We encourage you to speak with us beforehand, letting us know about any fears or concerns you may have. Once we know this, we can make adjustments and accommodations for you. Some patients find it helpful to go a bit more slowly, pausing occasionally. We’re happy to do this for you. Other patients come in with their headphones and devices and spend most of the appointment listening to music. That’s great! It allows you to focus on something (and somewhere) else other than what’s going on; also, music helps drown out the sound of drills, scraping tools and other ‘unpleasantries.’ No problem, we’re happy to oblige.
Even better, Triadent now offers you an added dimension. More than just sound, we can hook you up with a movie or television viewing experience, encapsulated in the ITV Goggles system. When you arrive at your appointment, after going over what will be done and answering any questions you may have, we’ll give you a set of goggles with an integrated screen and sound system. You can wear this throughout the appointment, transporting you away from all this and taking you to your favourite movie, TV show or documentary. You no longer have to “just sit there” and endure the procedures. Instead, we invite you to sit back and relax, put on the ITV Goggles, and let the time fly by. We know you’d rather be somewhere else, and we’re working to find new ways to lessen the burden of the dentist visit on you.
In the meanwhile, we encourage you to contact us and set up your dental appointment. Feel free to ask as many questions as you like. Let us know about your concerns. We’re here to help. Triadent Dental wants to be your trusted partner in effective, long-term oral health.