Dental Anxiety & Phobias

Worried about going to the dentist?

Dental anxiety is one of the most debilitating fears there is. Unfortunately, the longer you wait to see a dentist, the worse the problem can become.

As an expert in dental anxiety and phobias, Dr Helen can help you to remain calm and relaxed during your care.

Dr Helen always takes a slow and gentle approach, so there’s barely any sensation during treatment. We also provide sleep dentistry options, including light sedation and general anaesthesia.

If you experience dental anxiety, you’re not alone.

Many people feel nervous about seeing the dentist and have a fear of needles. Another common concern is the noise of the drill during procedures. It brings back bad memories for some. You might have anticipations about the visit, or perhaps remember dental visits you had as a child.

The reality of a dental appointment is usually very different from what you might expect. In addition to the option of light sedation and general anaesthesia, we will guide you through relaxation and calming techniques, while at the studio.

At the end of their appointment, most patients say, “I didn’t feel a thing!”

Dental Anxiety and Phobia Treatment

Dr Helen creates a judgment-free, open space where you, the patient, is in control. She explains every option, guides you through each stage of the process, and if at any time you feel uncomfortable, she lets you decide when you’re ready to continue. Schedule a consultation with Dr Helen and put an end to the years of fear and suffering you’ve experienced.

Dr Helen feels so passionately about helping patients conquer their dental phobias, she wrote the following open letter to fearful patients. Please take a read.

What options are there for patients with dental anxiety

After their initial consultation, Dr Helen’s patients often find they feel calm enough to undergo their procedure without sedation. The feeling of trust between a patient and compassionate dentist can make all the difference to help an anxious patient feel at ease.

However, there are other times when dental sedation or sleep dentistry can be just the right option. This could be a light oral sedative, enough to help you stay calm and relaxed in the chair for a simple examination, clean or general dentistry. Then there is IV sedation dentistry (often called twighlight sedation) which is administered through a vein. For more complex procedures, general anaesthesia can be used to put the patient to sleep completely.

Some helpful tips

  • Injections shouldn’t hurt if done patiently.
  • Schedule a consultation instead of a procedure. Sometimes just having a chance to talk to the dentist without the pressure of an exam or procedure can help rebuild trust.
  • Look into dental anxiety medication. A light oral sedative can put you at ease before a procedure and can be budget-friendly. Dr Helen can recommend some medications.
  • Remember that Dr Helen can administer twilight dentistry, also known as sleep dentistry, under general anaesthetic at her practice for the most phobic patients.

Symptoms of Dental Anxiety

If you are anxious about coming to the dentist, you may experience:

  • sweating
  • fast heart rate
  • possible fainting
  • distress and signs of panic

Fear of visiting the dentist is incredibly common. As many as 1 in 6 people have significant anxiety or fear about dental work. However, by not visiting the dentist for an extended period of time, or missing dental check-ups and teeth cleans, you may end up needing an emergency visit. Most dental disease is preventable, so not attending can result in more complex and involved treatment when you do attend. This cycle usually results in even more anxiety and fear around visiting the dentist.

The causes of dental anxiety are often specific to the individual. They may be a combination of physiological and psychological issues. Some patients may have anxiety around medical procedures more generally, such as a fear of needles, or the sound of drills.

Dental Phobia

Dental Phobia is at the extreme end of fear of dental treatments. It often is the result of a previous traumatic dental experience. A phobia can be hard to overcome, however Dr Helen is very experienced in helping patients feel relaxed and comfortable, by taking it slowly, gently and at a pace you can manage.

Dental Phobia can occur at any age and if not addressed, often persists throughout life.

Dr Helen can guide you through a range of techniques that can be used to assist you with dental phobia.

These include:

  • deep breathing and meditation
  • distraction and music
  • progressive muscle relation.
  • Oral anxiety relieving medications
  • Conscious sedation
  • General anaesthesia

If you suffer from dental anxiety or dental phobia, please get in touch, as we are very experienced in assisting our patients in working through the journey, and back to a happy smile!

Common Questions

Why Should You See Your Dentist Regularly?

My teeth are OK now. Why do I need to see you again?

Just because you’re not feeling any discomfort or symptoms, doesn’t mean your teeth and gums will be given a clean bill of health. If its been a while since you last visited a dentist, and you haven’t been observing stringent hygiene habits, there’s a possibility that there may be something we need to keep an eye on. Remember, prevention is better than cure.

Regular preventive oral health examinations can identify problem areas, and we can treat them before they become problematic, saving you time and money in the long-run.

People say to me, “Dr Helen, I just can’t make this month’s appointment, I’m far too busy. Anyway, it’s only for my routine examination.” What they mean is, it doesn’t matter, but it does matter. Attending your regular dental examination appointments is an essential treatment, it’s not just an exam, it’s taking control of your oral health.

If you experience dental anxiety, you’re not alone. Many people feel nervous about seeing the dentist. You might have expectations about the visit, or perhaps remember dental visits you had as a child. The reality of a dental appointment is usually very different from the expectation you might have. In addition to light sedation and general anaesthesia, we utilise several relaxation techniques at the studio. At the end of their appointment, most patients say, “I haven’t felt a thing!”

Many patients have a fear of needles. The reality is that the needle isn’t what’s painful. The discomfort comes from the fluid itself. I take it easy, slowly, gently, so there’s barely any sensation. In fact, some of my most fearful patients have asked me afterwards: “Was that it?” Another common concern can be the noise of the handpiece during procedures. It brings back bad memories for some. If you prefer to not hear it, you are welcome to wear earphones and listen to your favourite music. We have music playing throughout the studio, many patients find this soothing enough for them. Feel free to bring your own music if you like.

If you wish to discuss your treatment with us, please give us a call on (03) 9510 5597

If you are in pain, call our studio immediately. We’ll ask you a couple of questions about the nature and location of the pain, then find you a suitable appointment at the earliest opportunity. The priority is always to have you pain-free as quickly as possible, and in the meantime, there are a number of self-help measures you can take to keep comfortable.

If You Have a Toothache:

Here are a few steps you can apply at home to try to relieve the pain:

Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as Nurofen or Panadol (please make sure you are not allergic to either). However, you will need to see me as soon as possible. If you mask the pain and ignore it, the infection can spread and could become very serious.

If the pain is caused by debris lodged in a cavity, washing the area may relieve the problem.

Floss your teeth, and then run a toothpick around the gum line. This may remove debris that’s lodged under the gum.

Putting an ice pack on your face over the area that hurts may relieve the pain. Apply the ice for 10 to 20 minutes of every hour, as necessary.

If you will be travelling on a plane, the change in pressure when the plane takes off or lands may increase your discomfort. You should see me before travelling by air.

If You Have a Broken Tooth:

If the tooth is sharp, you can temporarily use orthodontic wax or a sugar free chewing gum to cover sharp spots.

If an area is bleeding, apply a piece of gauze to the area for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops.

Apply a cold compress to the cheek or lips over the broken tooth. This will help reduce swelling and relieve pain.

Take an over-the-counter pain reliever.

If Your Tooth Has Fallen Out (avulsed tooth):

If you have lost a tooth playing sport or as a result of some other trauma, the best thing to do is to suck it clean and reposition it back into the socket. Do not worry about infections as you will require antibiotics anyway.

Call us immediately on (03) 9510 5597. If you are unable to reposition the tooth in the socket, the tooth can also be placed in milk, however keeping the tooth inside the mouth (between cheek and gums) is best as the saliva will help preserve the tooth.

Do not rinse your mouth or tooth with water as this can damage the tooth.

You can also check out our youtube channel for more advice on the top ten common causes of a toothache.

We sure do! Check out some of the options here or schedule a consultation with us today by contacting the studio at (03) 9510 5597. We can give you a comprehensive treatment plan with all costs and figures and provide the best payment plan options based on your individual needs.

Absolutely. Dr Helen knows how debilitating a fear of the dentist can be. She offers one-on-one consultations to discuss options, fears, and all aspects of a dental phobia to make sure you can comfortably visit the dentist for routine treatment. Dr Helen’s Dental & Implant Studio is judgment-free, if you have a dental phobia and would like a consultation, please contact the studio at (03) 9510 5597, and we will get you started on a path to pain-free, worry-free dental health. For more information, check out Dr Helen’s Open Letter to Fearful Patients.

About Dr Helen

Dr Helen’s work has restored the smiles of countless patients, even the ones who had lost all faith in their teeth.

She opened up her East Prahran Studio in 2008 after working across regional Victoria and gaining broad experience in emergency, surgical and cosmetic dentistry.

Her aim is to always provide gentle care with the highest quality outcomes for patients. From the first consultation, right through to post-op care, she ensures she is there for every patient.

Book Consultation

Give us a call on 03 9510 5597 or fill in the form below to book your initial consultation.

NOTE: We will be in contact with you to confirm your appointment time.

Indicative Pricing

We would like you to be well informed, so we have put together a rough fee guide. However, each treatment is based on individual needs and requirements, and we will prepare a customised treatment plan for you after your initial consultation.