Psychological Strategies for Overcoming Dental Anxiety and Fear
There is a lot that dentists (and yourself) can do to help which doesn’t involve special gadgets or specialised technical procedures.
Frequently used strategies include:
- the use of non-threatening language (and body language)
- stop and coping signals
- distraction techniques such as listening to music, watching TV, closing your eyes, holding a soft toy, knitting, etc.
- making the physical environment phobic-friendly
- interactive approaches based on tell-show-do techniques (direct interaction)
- taking scheduled breaks
- positive reinforcement (making positive comments and generally being supportive)
- relaxation techniques (including breathing techniques and guided imagery)
There are other ways of making people feel at ease – for example, using humour or being particularly calm and confident. These are to some extent dependent on personality characteristics and not always techniques that can be learned. Another major factor is trust – dentists who strongly believe in your ability to cope well are likely to instill confidence. Trust begets trust. Again, it takes a special kind of personality to put deep trust into another person’s ability to cope.
You can find more information on these psychological strategies by following the links above, or using the side navigation (or bottom nav on mobile). Each page also includes practical tips for dentists, which can be used straight away.