No More High Anxiety at the Dentist – Facing Your Dental Fear

By Dr Yao Xu DDS (U.S.A.) General Dental Surgeon

I had a fear of dentist growing up in Singapore, a few fillings without adequate anaesthesia, being called upon by your classmate in primary school to let you know it’s your turn to visit the nurse or dental bus… A visit to the dentist never seems fun, especially when you’ve had a really bad personal experience when you were younger. Many of us were victims of that era, when teeth were just managed as that. Teeth.

But let me assure you, dentistry has changed a lot since then! Not only are schools selecting for empathy and communication skills among incoming dental students, we have also been taught more patient management skills, have more sophisticated equipment that reduces treatment time, and we see you as a person who has a tooth problem, not a tooth attached to a person!

We understand that dental fears come in many shapes and form, some of which include:

  • Fear of pain. According to a Canadian study, people who had prior painful experiences at the dentist were more likely to experience pain. Also more likely to experience pain were people with dental anxiety, those who expected dental procedures to be painful, and those who felt they had no control over their treatment.
  • Fear of embarrassment. Dr. Yao and other dentists must get into your personal space for dental exams and other treatments. This bothers some folks, who may be uncomfortable about having a relative stranger so close to them or embarrassed if their teeth are in poor condition.
  • Fear of loss of control. Some people get stressed if they feel they have no control over their circumstances.

At Pure NZ Dental, we make sure our office feels comfortable, no clinical. As you enter, you’ll be greeted by friendly faces and movies (that are not about teeth, I know, I know), your children will probably dash to the children’s corner (and might even refuse to leave unless you promise them you’ll bring them back to finish cooking that meal on the little stove, in six months’ time), and your happy dentists will offer you cosy blankets, pillows, laughing gas, movies (maybe even a face massage, while we check your head and neck area!) Our tips for you to feel better?

  • Find a dentist that you trust. Ask your friends if they know anyone kind and gentle, read some online reviews, take a leap of faith. We promise we will listen to your concerns, offer a tissue and huggable cushions, and walk you through any procedure.
  • Start with small treatments. Try just a consultation, maybe a cleaning, before you move onto fillings and more. Our team makes it a point to take as much time as needed for consultation and treatment planning — meaning we set aside plenty of time at each visit to go through all your treatment options, answer your questions, and explain the risks of each treatment. No pressure!
  • Bring your favorite music playlist and noise-canceling earphones, it really helps to get you in the zone. Or pick a movie from our wide selection!
  • Just breathe. Deep breaths activate the vagus nerve, which helps your whole body relax.

I hope you will find the courage and the dentist who best fits your needs, and be on your way to a lifetime of dental health!


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