Dental fear affects about one in seven Australian adults, making it one of the most common barriers in accessing dental treatment. So while regular visits to a dentist remain one of the best safeguards against dental problems, for a very significant minority of people a dental visit becomes almost impossible.
Dental phobia can also start a pattern whereby oral health worsens; people feel ashamed and guilty or become embarrassed, which can result in avoidance, and complex oral heath issues.
At North Sydney Dental Practice, we recognise that even making this first phone call may be confronting and difficult for patients to make. This is why we have invested our time in introducing free virtual consultations, which allow patients to take the first step from the safety and convenience of their own home.
While these consultations don’t replace a full clinical examination, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and secure photo technology, allows us to assess patients’ oral health remotely and produce a report outlining preliminary findings and recommendations.
From there we can develop a strategy to address concerns and plan the next step.
All dentists at North Sydney Dental Practice pay special care and attention when treating anxious or phobic patients. They regularly attend seminars that focus on trust and relationship building, anxiety management techniques, as well as are able to provide additional support in ways of sedatives tablets, happy gas or IV sedation. These can alleviate anxiety and make dental visit a more pleasant experience.
General tips we provide to our patients are:
- Practice deep breathing and/or meditate before appointments
- Tell us if you’re nervous when booking; talk to the dentist openly about any fears/triggers and ways that we can make things easier
- Bring a friend to the appointment, a comforting object or your favourite music/podcasts
- Start small – book an easy, less confrontational procedure, such as consultation
- Don’t be afraid to stop the dentist at any time you feel you need a break, and together with the dentist, develop a “stop” cue
- Book the next visit while at the practice
- Don’t delay any longer