Overcoming Dental Anxiety: Navigating the Fear of the Dentist for Necessary Treatment

From Anxiety to Confidence, Check out these Proven Strategies for Stress-Free Dentistry

If the mere thought of a dental appointment sends shivers down your spine, you’re not alone. Many individuals experience dental anxiety, fear, or phobia, but the good news is that at Molonglo Dental Surgery in Canberra, we understand and are here to help. In this blog, we’ll delve into the causes, symptoms, and effective strategies to manage dental anxiety, ensuring you can receive the essential oral care without unnecessary stress.

What is Dental Anxiety and what are its causes?

Dental anxiety is a prevalent condition triggered by various factors such as needles, drilling sounds, or antiseptic smells. Whether it’s rooted in past negative experiences, fear of pain, or loss of control, understanding the causes is crucial. Mental illnesses like general anxiety disorder or PTSD can exacerbate dental anxiety, requiring thoughtful approaches from dental professionals like us at Molonglo Dental Surgery.

How common is it?

Dental anxiety is more common than you might think. From racing heartbeats to sweating and visible signs of stress, the symptoms vary in intensity. Addressing the root causes, whether they stem from past negative experiences, fear of needles, or a sense of helplessness during dental procedures, is essential for effective management.

Dental Anxiety Symptoms

Recognising the symptoms, such as withdrawal or palpitations, is the first step in addressing dental anxiety. Understanding the psychological and experiential factors contributing to anxiety allows for tailored solutions, ensuring a more comfortable experience for the patient.

Steps to Mitigate Dental Anxiety

Managing dental anxiety requires a multifaceted approach. Open communication with your dentist, choosing the right professional, gradual exposure to the dental environment, and implementing relaxation techniques are effective strategies. Visualisation, distraction techniques, and having a support person can also significantly alleviate anxiety.

Counselling from Dentist

For severe cases, psychological counselling from a dentist, specialised in treating anxious patients, can be invaluable. Sharing your fears and concerns with your dentist allows for a personalised approach, fostering trust and easing worries.

Breathing Exercises/ Meditation

Incorporating relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation can calm nerves and enhance the overall dental experience. Practicing these exercises at home prepares individuals to use them effectively during dental appointments.


For those seeking alternative approaches, hypnosis can be explored as a means to alleviate dental anxiety. Discussing this option with your dentist can help determine its suitability for your specific situation.

Nitrous Oxide or Laughing Gas

Laughing gas, or nitrous oxide, provides a mild sedative effect, promoting relaxation during dental procedures. This option is suitable for individuals with moderate anxiety who wish to remain conscious during treatment.

Conscious Sedation

Conscious sedation, administered through oral medications, is a step further in managing anxiety. This method induces drowsiness, aiding in a more relaxed dental experience.

General Anaesthesia

In extreme cases, general anaesthesia may be considered for individuals with severe dental phobia. While not commonly used, it ensures complete unconsciousness during the procedure.

Anxiety Medication

Anxiety medication may be prescribed for individuals experiencing significant fear. Discussing this option with your dentist allows for a comprehensive evaluation of its suitability for your specific needs.

Negative effects on your Oral Health

Neglecting dental appointments due to anxiety can have severe consequences on oral health. Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential not just for your teeth but also for overall physical health. Dental anxiety should not hinder seeking necessary care, as it can lead to various health issues.

At Molonglo Dental Surgery, we prioritise your comfort and well-being. Dental anxiety is a common challenge, but it shouldn’t deter you from essential dental care.

If you wish to speak to a Canberra dentist who can help you with your dental anxiety issues, simply give a call to our Friendly Canberra Dentist in Molonglo Valley – contact Molonglo Dental Surgery at 02 6287 1222.

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