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Our Best Tips for Getting Rid of Anxiety About Dental Services

a woman in a dentist chair looking nervous


Fear of the dentist isn’t uncommon. In fact, it’s estimated that 36% of people experience some kind of dental anxiety. When you’re dealing with fear or anxiety around the idea of a visit to your dental office, you’re much more likely to engage in an activity called dental avoidance. Dental avoidance is – as the name suggests – the active avoidance of a dental visit or check-up.

This means that you’re more likely to have serious dental problems go undiagnosed, increasing the odds that you’ll need more robust treatment to bring your oral health back to where it should be. It’s a cycle that feeds back into itself; the more intensive care you need, the more likely your anxiety is to grow, and the higher the chances you’ll avoid the dentist for even longer in the future.

Breaking the cycle of anxiety is essential for your health – both physical and mental – but we know it’s not as easy as just deciding to pick up the phone and call. That’s why today, we’re going to let you in on some of our best tips for reducing dental anxiety to help you get past the fear and get comfortable with the dental chair.

Let Your Dentist Know What’s Worrying You

Your dentist is a medical expert, but they’re also a person, just like you. The same is true for the dental hygienists, nurses, and dental assistants who may work at the same dental office. They’re not here to torture you – they entered the dental industry because they hold a genuine passion and interest for making sure you’re as healthy and as comfortable as you can be.

If your anxieties stem from a bad dental experience you had in the past, let your dentist know. Tell them what you’re worried or scared about with regard to your dental health. We might be able to recommend a light form of sedation, such as nitrous oxide, to help you relax and let go of some of your anxieties. We’ll also likely be able to tailor our services around your concerns; for example, if you need time during a procedure to relax or take a quick break, we’ll know to offer you a few minutes.

Your dentist genuinely wants you to feel safe and comfortable while they’re working on your teeth, but they can’t help address your fears or concerns if they don’t know what they are. So, tell us what’s on your mind – it’s okay.

Develop a Method to Distract Yourself

There’s not much for you to do during a dental appointment or procedure, and it’s not uncommon to feel awkward or bored. If you feel social, you might engage in occasional conversation with your hygienist or dentist as they conduct the cleaning, but if you’re not a talker (or if talking’s not an option), it can feel like a never-ending plateau of awkward boredom.

Instead, come in with a plan. Are you a daydreamer? Do you enjoy listening to music, or watching a video on your phone? As long as it’s not in your dentist’s way and we can still communicate with you when we need to, there are plenty of options for entertainment. Bring along some music or your latest audiobook. Allow yourself to get lost in a favourite memory, or use the time to think about a project you’re looking forward to.

When you stop focusing on the minutiae of the procedure, you’ll also lose track of time – which means you’ll be out of the dentist chair before you know it.

Get to Know Your Dentist

Mouths are personal spaces. From bitten cheeks to sore teeth and smelly tongues, there’s a lot in there that you might find embarrassing or tender, which is why you might feel uncomfortable letting a complete stranger poke around. We understand, which is why we strongly advocate getting to know your dentist before your appointment. When you realize what they value, and how much training they’ve undergone to be able to offer you the best care, you’ll likely feel more comfortable about putting your teeth in their hands.

Allow us to make the first introduction. Dr. Elston Wong is originally from Ottawa, and his background isn’t just in dentistry; he spent his undergrad years in chemistry and biochemistry. He’s completed a hospital-based general practice residency (GPR) at Tufts University, practiced in New Brunswick, and has studied complex reconstruction challenges. He knows his stuff, but he’s also passionate about giving back to the community and he strives to provide each patient with the absolute best dental care around. He’ll listen to whatever concerns you have, and he’ll work with you to achieve the goals you have in mind for your teeth, your smile, and your oral health.

Book Your Twice-Yearly Cleanings in Advance

This is the tip that’s a bit like ripping off a band-aid; you might have to work up the courage to do it, but once it’s done, you’ll be glad you did. The first step for any kind of dental services is to make an appointment for them. Minimally, you should be seeing your dentist at least twice a year for a check-up and cleaning. Pick up the phone (or fire up your email) and make the appointments now. You can even keep them on the same date every year.

Setting these appointments will do several things for your anxiety. The first is to remove the fear of taking that first step; it’s already been made, and you’re already committed to go. The second is to get you used to the idea of going. There won’t be a question of if you need a check-up, or how to fit it in with your schedule, or whether or not they’re accepting appointments. You’ll see it right there on your calendar, and you’ll know it’s coming up, which will allow you to mentally prepare if you need to.

Comfortable, Relaxing Dental Services in Barrie

At Dr. Elston Wong Dentistry, we understand that visiting the dentist can be stressful. That’s why, in addition to our exemplary care, you’ll also discover kind & empathetic service throughout every stage of your appointment. From restorative dentistry to prosthodontic care, we know how to look after your teeth throughout every stage of life and in any condition. Find out for yourself the difference that the right dentist can make, and unveil the healthy, radiant smile you’ve always wanted.

For more information on our preventive and restorative dentistry services,call our office at (705) 721-1143. You can also send us a message online.

Dr. Elston Wong Portrait

About Dr. Elston Wong

Dr. Elston Wong completed his dental degree at The University of Toronto in 1999 before arriving in Barrie in 2002. After graduating, he continued to learn everything he could about dentistry. Now he has taken the time to share important information for anyone to read.

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