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Dental Anxiety and Nervous Patients

HEALTH SERVICES BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

Do You Feel Anxious about Your Dental Appointment? We’re Here to Change that.

Dentophobia is one of the most common fears amongst people of different ages. According to a study conducted by Oral-B as published by the Sydney Morning Herald, 83 percent of Australians admit to having some level of anxiety when visiting the dentist. Out of 1,004 Australians aged 18-64 interviewed, half would rather be humiliated publicly than visit the dentist.

As dental professionals, we understand this. Going to the dentist can be a concern for many, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We see this challenge as an opportunity, not a threat. We’re here to make your dental anxiety our mission.

Do You Feel Anxious about Your Dental Appointment? We’re Here to Change that.

Dentophobia is one of the most common fears amongst people of different ages. According to a study conducted by Oral-B as published by the Sydney Morning Herald, 83 percent of Australians admit to having some level of anxiety when visiting the dentist. Out of 1,004 Australians aged 18-64 interviewed, half would rather be humiliated publicly than visit the dentist.

As dental professionals, we understand this. Going to the dentist can be a concern for many, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We see this challenge as an opportunity, not a threat. We’re here to make your dental anxiety our mission.

What are the Common Causes of Fear of the Dentist?

Fear of the dentist is not an irrational one. It is one borne out of a variety of deeply rooted fears that have become associated with dental visits. There are three common root fears that cause a fear of the dentist.

Fear of Losing All Control

Being in control makes us feel safe. Many patients think they lose control when they visit the dentist. As a result, we get anxious patients gripped by the fear of a lack of control.

Fear of Being Embarrassed

Having broken, rotten or discoloured teeth can make a person feel uncomfortable, even embarrassed. They hide their smiles from the world because they’re afraid of being judged or humiliated for having bad teeth.

Fear of Pain

Pain is not something anyone enjoys. There’s a lot of association between dental appointments and pain. The thought of drills and needles makes people nervous about getting in the dentist’s chair.

Our Promise to You

At Dental Boutique, we like making and keeping promises to our patients. And here is our promise to you if you are one of the many anxious patients in this world.

We promise to be non-judgmental at all times. Our space is a safe space for you to be yourself and we will appreciate you no matter what.

We promise to find the least painful alternative at all times. While we cannot guarantee that all procedures will be discomfort-free, we invest heavily in technology that highly minimises the pain that our patients experience.

We promise to always give you agency. You have control of every outcome and a say in every situation that occurs within our walls.

Why It’s Time to Visit the Dentist

Many people wouldn’t ever be caught visiting the dentist. But paying a visit to a dental clinic can prove wonders for you. Based on the feedback we get from our patients, we’ve never had anyone walk out of our doors with remorse.

If you’re suffering from problems with your teeth, chances are you have a hard time smiling because you don’t feel good about yourself. Maybe you’re even in more pain than you realise. Visiting the dentist is not just about having nice teeth. It’s more than that. Here are a few reasons why you should visit the dentist.

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For your health and wellbeing

Oral health is the gateway to overall health. Have you ever noticed how people miss work or school just because of a toothache? That’s because when your teeth or mouth is in pain, your whole body feels it.

Your mouth is also one of the most sensitive areas of your whole body. An infection caused by tooth decay or gum infection can cause more damage to you as a whole than you think. Having healthy teeth and gums is key to being healthy as a whole.

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To boost your self-esteem

We’ve had multiple patients who make it a habit to hide their smile. They would laugh while covering their mouths with their hands or smile with their lips closed for photos. All this because they weren’t confident with their teeth.

At Dental Boutique we’re all about restoring people’s reason to smile and giving them their confidence back. Visiting a dentist could be your one step to building the confidence you need to start dating, go to that job interview or be more active in your community. It all starts with bringing your smile to the next level.

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To change your life

Our true and firm belief is that as dental practitioners, we’re in the business of changing people’s lives. We’ve seen it happen multiple times with our previous clients. By visiting your dentist, you could be unlocking a better you and therefore have a better life.

It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

Fearing the dentist is highly common, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Our promise to you is that your visit to Dental Boutique will break all scary stereotypes of going to the dentist. We make it a point to make our space a safe and secure one. We hold no judgments towards any of our patients and always treat everyone with special care and attention.

How We Handle Anxious Patients

We deal with anxious patients with the highest level of positive regard, patience and compassion. The following are our best practices when dealing with anxiety in our patients:

We give patients enough time to express their concerns, worries, needs and desires and never, never, never judge them.

We explain all risks and benefits of all treatment options our patients have so there are no surprises during treatment.

We give our patients the option for sedation and offer various customised sedation procedures which fit to the patient’s anxiety level to reduce stress and pain.

We establish a fail-safe signal system with our patients. One common signal we use is a hand raise at the signal of pain. This helps patients maintain control during treatment and alerts us if they’re feeling pain or discomfort.

We establish a mutual agreement with our patients regarding taking breaks at fixed intervals. This method alleviates the fear of interrupting the dentist or the worry that a patient may be disturbing them at an inconvenient moment. We never rush through an appointment. Each one is given as much time and care as is needed.

Our Treatments for Anxious Patients

We provide our patients with options to achieve an anxiety-free journey.

Gas Inhalation

By inhaling Penthrox, this alleviates the initial anxiety associated with needles that patients may have before treatment. The pain of needles is removed as patients don’t feel a thing but this option still enables the patient to remain awake during treatment.

Medication

Anxiety tablets help to remove the anxiety of patients before treatment. These tablets help to deliver treatment stress-free for patients.

Sleep dentistry (IV Sedation and General Anaesthetic)

Provided by a highly-qualified anaesthetist at the practice, patients can relax and feel at ease during treatment as they don’t remember or feel any of the treatment being carried out.

These sedation options are great alternatives not just for people with fear of dentists, but also those with:

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A fear of needles

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A strong gag reflex

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A low pain threshold

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A past traumatic dental experience

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Multiple dental treatments requiring long treatment time

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A dislike of noises, smells and taste during dental procedures

A Guide to Help You Overcome Your Fear

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is dental anxiety often a symptom of additional anxiety within a person, maybe even at a sub-conscious level?

For a large majority of dental patients, the fear they feel at the dentist is not the main fear but simply an association coming from a deeper anxiety. Some people fear the embarrassment, the smell, the feel of the clinic, the pain or simply the association. Others might be scared because of a story they might have heard from someone else about a bad experience at the clinic. But rarely is it ever the case that people are afraid of dentists mainly.

If so, do you also recommend that a patient can get help via yoga, meditation, or via natural or herbal medicines, in the weeks and months before they have invasive dental procedures?

Alternative means of relieving stress and anxiety are okay with us as long as they don’t pose a hindrance to our treatment processes. But in cases where patients would want intervention, we have treatment and sedation options that will help minimise pain and relieve anxiety significantly.

Many people as well as some psychologists and spiritual healers, believe that the teeth are deeply and intimately connected to a person’s psyche, that there is a deep emotional and spiritual connection to teeth which can make it traumatic for them to have teeth removed. Do you acknowledge this consciousness?

At a physiological level, we understand there is a deep connection between the teeth and the whole body. There is, for instance, research that builds an association between mental and oral health. People who suffer from poor teeth can often have self-esteem issues which can lead to a level of depression amongst patients.

People with poor oral health can also be victim to eating disorders and high irritability because of the discomfort gum or teeth issues might cause. The person as a whole is just as, or even more highly affected as a whole than the effects of having teeth removed. So if there’s an association between the teeth and the soul, there is more at stake by not treating oral problems.

In the days, weeks, months and even years after having a major dental treatment, do you recommend to your patients any kind of inner soul work or therapy they can undertake which helps them come to terms with any PTSD they feel they’re experiencing?

We do not recommend any soul work or therapy, but if the patient feels like it can help, it is their right to seek such help.

Is it best for a patient early on in their relationship with you to flag that they suffer from dental fear, so that you can handle their experience with this in mind from the earliest interactions?

By all means, yes it’s much better. Acknowledging fears and communicating them early can help us build systems and practices with our patients that aid us in alleviating whatever anxiety you may have. Help us to help you.

Is there a recognisable difference understood among dental peers which define dental anxiety as different from dental fear and also different again from dental phobia? Are there degrees of this state which dentists are trained in to be able to manage everything from the milder aspects of it to the extremes?

Patients can have varying levels of fears when they come to us. Some could have experienced trauma with a bad dental experience while others could just be irritated by the noise of a dentist drill. The way we treat all kinds of patients can be different. Levels of sedation could be higher for more anxious patients, breaks could be longer and signals could be more sensitive. We treat every patient as a unique case. We never have stereotypes or templates.

It’s probably the case that many people’s dental anxiety can cause them to avoid a dentist for decades if not their entire life. When such people finally come to see you, perhaps with their teeth in a terrible state, what do you say to them?

We hold no judgments. That is one of our guarantees. There’s nothing we can do about what has already passed. So instead we focus on solutions that can bring better results to the present and to the future.

Are there occasions where dental fear is genuinely unfounded? Eg the fear is far, far greater than any pain or discomfort they may have to go through?

Yes, there are many cases where dental fear is genuinely unfounded. But fear is still fear so we still find every possible way to alleviate it.

How is dealing with dental fear in children different from dealing with it in adults?

Fear of the dentist among kids is rarely as high as that suffered by adults – the opposite of this is a common misconception. Many kids are brave when in the dentist’s chair, even braver than adults at times.

Have you personally ever experienced dental anxiety, both as a patient and even as a practitioner?

We all have fears, so it’s safe to say that we have fears of our own. But with the years of experience and exposure, those fears have lost their grip on us. We know we can provide the care necessary to get the results our patients seek.

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