Helping Patients with Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia

Closeup portrait young terrified girl woman scared at dentist visit, siting in chair, covering her mouth, doesn't want dental procedure, drilling, tooth extraction, isolated clinic office background

It’s not a good idea to avoid going to the dentist. Dental checkups are mostly about providing preventive care. But if you miss your checkups, small problems can get a lot worse. Plaque and tartar buildup can turn into gum disease and tooth decay. Gum disease and tooth decay can cause a patient to lose one or more teeth. And if gum disease isn’t effectively treated, it can eventually lead to serious health issues such as strokes, heart disease, and alzheimer’s disease.

What are Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia?

Unfortunately, many people are reluctant to visit the dentist due to dental anxiety or dental phobia, two related conditions that afflict millions of Canadians. According to Stats Canada, 40 percent of Canadians have a “strong fear of going to the dentist.”

For people who struggle with dental anxiety, the thought of visiting the dentist causes levels of fear that are “exaggerated” or “unfounded.” The symptoms of dental phobia are much more intense than dental anxiety. Dental phobia leaves patients feeling panic stricken when they think about going to the dentist.

What Dentists Can Do

There are several things dentists can do to help patients overcome dental anxiety. But it all begins with creating a safe and pleasant environment for patients to receive dental care. That’s why everyone who works in a dental office should speak softly when patients are present. They should also refrain from using any threatening actions or body language.

It’s also helpful for patients with dental anxiety or dental phobia if the dentist meets privately with them in his office before treatment begins. This allows the dentist to describe the upcoming treatment in a relaxed setting and answer any question that patients might have.  

Another thing dentists can do to help put patients at ease is to take frequent breaks during treatment. It’s also reassuring when the dentist provides positive reinforcement to the patient. One thing that a dentist should never do is scold patients about how long it’s been since their last visit. Guilt about the condition of their teeth is a major cause of apprehension for patients with dental anxiety and dental phobia.

What Patients Can Do

Patients are encouraged to seek treatment from a mental health professional for their dental anxiety or dental phobia. There are several techniques that have been successfully employed to treat dental anxiety and dental phobia, including systematic desensitization, cognitive therapy, and biofeedback. Patients can also try relaxation strategies on their own. Breathing exercises can be particularly effective for helping people relax. In fact, there are a number of them available on youtube.

Your Full Service Dentist in Lake Williams

Dr. Wassenaar offers a wide range of restorative and cosmetic services for patients in the Lake Williams area. Call to schedule an appointment and discover what we can do for your smile.

 

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Covid-19 (Corona) Virus

Dear valued patients of Williams Lake Smiles,

Happy New Year to all our patients and friends of Williams Lake Smiles!

There’s just something about a new year! It represents a clean slate, a new beginning for many of us. As we finished up with 2020, we all want to believe that 2021 will bring a sort of relief from much of what the past year has brought us. 

Although there are still many restrictions and hurdles ahead of us, we are all doing our best to prove that we are resilient and focused on brighter and healthier days ahead.

The start of 2021 finds many of us evaluating our health and making plans and potential changes for the year ahead. So, as you are making some New Year’s resolutions, don’t forget to add dental care to that list!

Managing your dental health is a key factor of keeping your immune system strong to help protect you against any attack. Just as important as a good diet, rest and exercise, your dental health is something you should not ignore.

Often dental changes can happen with little to no discomfort or warning. Just as changes in the rest of your body happen, it is the same for your teeth and mouth. We all know that age, stress, hormones and busy schedules (just to name a few) sneak up on us and seem to cause changes to our bodies almost overnight. Where you used to be able to eat whatever you wanted, barely exercise and stay up all hours of the night, you might be noticing that you just can’t do that anymore! It is similar with our dental care routine. If you have been doing the same routine for what seems like forever, it might be time to evaluate and change things, even slightly, to be more effective in keeping your teeth and gums healthy for a lifetime.

Our team at Williams Lake Smiles is here to help make your health a top priority. We look forward to continuing to work with you as life changes happen and want to make dental pain and emergency the smallest challenges possible.

This past year we have been working even harder to make our office a safe, welcoming place for you to visit. You may notice our policies and protocols have changed and will continue to do so based on recommendations from our professional colleges, provincial and local health authorities. Please respect these new policies and understand that some extra screening and time is required in order to achieve this. To keep things running smoothly, it is very important to complete all screening paperwork prior to all visits to our office. If the required paperwork is not completed, we may need to reschedule your appointment time.

Contact our team to schedule a dental appointment to help you be the healthiest you in 2021.

We look forward to seeing you soon,

Dr Rudy Wassenaar and the team at Williams Lake Smiles


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