How to Overcome Your Fear of the Dentist

Fear of the dentist is much more common than you might think. There are very few people that actually look forward to spending time in their dentist’s office. According to the Australian Dental Association, more than 14% of adults suffer from high dental anxiety.

woman in the dentist chair smilingThe problem is, this dental anxiety is preventing many Australians from receiving the preventive dental care that they really need. The consequences of failing to receive regular dental check-ups can go far beyond a simple toothache. It can cause gum disease and other serious infections, which have been found to cause diabetes, stroke and even heart disease.

Fortunately, these days, many dentists (including the team at Dr Olstein’s practice in Prahran) are trained to care for scared or worried patients, and there is a whole range treatment available that reduces both pain and fear.

What Causes Fear of Dentists?

While the root cause of fear of dentists is different for every single patient, there are usually a few common factors:

  • Lack of control: when you visit the dentist, you lay prone in the dentists’ chair, with the dentist perched above you. You are unable to see what the dentist is doing, and usually cannot talk. All this lack of control can cause substantial fear and anxiety in patients.
  • Lack of confidence in their dentist: many people have visited less-than-gentle dentists in the past, and believe that all dentists operate in the exact same way. Their one bad experience leads them to believe all dental appointments will be uncomfortable, and even painful in some instances.
  • Fear of pain: above all, many people are scared of the pain that they convince themselves they’re in for when they have a regular check up If your dentist is calm and gentle, like Dr Olstein, then a regular check-up need not be painful.

Tips to Help You Overcome Your Fear of Dentists

While Dr Olstein will do absolutely everything in his power to help you overcome your fear of the dentist, and make you feel as comfortable as possible, there are also a number of things you can do yourself:

  • Work out exactly why you are afraid of the dentist. How long have you been scared of visiting the dentist? When did your fear first start? Why? You may not even be aware of why you’re scared. By pinpointing the origin of your fear, you could discover that your fear is unfounded, or that it is really about a specific dentist, rather than all dentists.
  • Make sure you explain your fears to your dentist. Do this right from the beginning – when you first phone up to make an appointment. When you meet your dentist face-to-face, explain your fears, and help them understand the cause of your fears. If your dentist is aware of your anxiety, then they will go out of their way to ensure that you are comfortable at all times. Plus, if they understand from where your fear originates, then they can ensure it does not occur.
  • Make sure you feel comfortable with your dentist once you have explained your fears. If you don’t feel like they have listened, or understood your anxieties, then find a dentist who does. Make sure your dentist is focused on helping you overcome your fear, as well as fixing your teeth.
  • Take a ‘buddy’ along to the dentist with you. This could be a friend, a family member or your partner, as long as they are not scared of visiting the dentist. They will be a familiar, friendly face in otherwise unfamiliar surroundings.
  • Try to distract yourself, or think about something else, while you are in the dentist’s chair. Wearing headphones and listening to an iPod can be a great way to distract yourself. This way, you cannot hear any of the noises common associated with a dentist’s practice.
  • Use relaxation techniques, such as controlled breathing exercises, where you take a big breath, hold it in, and then letting it out very slowly. Slowing your breathing will also slow down your heart and relax your muscles.
  • Keep your eyes closed during your treatment. Unfortunately, your dentist will often be right above you, peering at your face, throughout your treatment. There is simply no way around this—they have to be able to see your teeth and gums. Having a relative stranger that close to your face can be very off-putting.
  • Dr Olstein can also administer various relaxation medications for example nitrous oxide (commonly know as laughing gas), valium or zanax.
  • Speak to Dr Olstein about sleep dentistry. He is an expert in the field of sedation dentistry, which may be perfect for you; a specialist anethestist can put you to sleep so you will wake up to find your procedure complete.
  • Remember that dental procedures and technology have advanced rapidly over the last 10 years or so. There are many new, less-invasive treatments and techniques that make the entire process quicker and easier.
  • If all else fails, then you may even want to see a psychologist. They will be able to help you deal with your phobia, and its root cause.

How Dr Olstein Will Help You Overcome Your Fear of Dentists

Dr Olstein’s number one priority is always the comfort of his patients. That’s why he will work with you, every step of the way, to help you overcome your fear of dentists.

Before Treatment Begins

Dr Olstein understands that visiting the dentist can be very scary for many people. That’s why, before he commences treatment:

  • You’ll be greeted by one of our friendly receptionists, who will make you feel right at home and at ease. You are more than welcome to speak our receptionists about your anxiety when you arrive; they will let Dr Olstein know immediately.
  • You can sit in our comfortable waiting room, which is warm and cosy, and free from all the usual scary posters depicting gum disease and rotting teeth. Flick through a magazine to keep your mind off your treatment.
  • The first thing Dr Olstein will do is calmly and gently explaining exactly what the treatment involves, what it feels like, and for how long you can expect the treatment to last. You can ask Dr Olstein as many questions as you like. By giving you as much information as possible, you no longer need to fear the unknown.
  • Dr Olstein will often start a treatment plan with smaller, easier treatments such as a scale and clean, before moving onto any larger procedures. This will help you get used to being at the dentist.

During Your Treatment

One of the ways in which Dr Olstein can help you to overcome your fear of dentists is to make you feel more in control of your dental care. He does this by:

  • Regularly asking you if you feel comfortable enough to continue with your course of treatment.
  • If, for any reason at all, you need to stop your treatment, then we stop straight away and give you time to rest and relax. He will give you a specific signal to stop treatment, which is usually a wave of a hand. As soon as Dr Olstein sees you wave, he will stop all treatment as soon as possible.

If you’d like to make an appointment with Dr George Olstein, or would just like to discuss your dental care needs, please do not hesitate to contact us today.

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