Beating Dental Anxiety

Going to the dentist can be a frightening experience for many. When people think about all the procedures or simply the thought of going to the dentist, they start to feel very nervous and scared.  Hearing  the word “extraction”, may make people start to feel very anxious at the thought of a drill operating around their teeth. Anxiety at the dentist is more common than you may think.

The point is that most people , at some point or another, has (or will) experience anxiety about going to the dentist. It’s unavoidable. No one takes perfect care of their teeth during their lifetime, so going to the dentist is inevitable. In most cases, after a visit to the dentist and experiencing how painless and easy each procedure is, all the feat and anxiety goes away, and as the old saying goes, knowledge is power.

So, read on, arm yourself with knowledge, and let’s explore several common dental procedures, and what you can do to combat the anxiety that you may associate with them

Fear of the dentist

Many people find that arming themselves with information about  their procedure is key to beating their fear around their dentist visit.

The fortunate thing, however, is that many common dental procedures involve little to no pain at all! The myth that going to the dentist is an immediate sentence for agony is one that has long plagued the dental industry, mainly due to cartoon depictions and threats made towards misbehaving children.

So, let’s go through a few common dental procedures, and what you can expect while getting them done.


Fillings are an incredibly common dental procedure, and even though they do involve an injection, a numbing gel is used to turn the sharp stabbing sensation, into a minor pinch. Fillings are popular, because they are cheap, reduce bacteria, extend the life of your tooth, and prevent further dental work tremendously.

The procedure starts by taking an x-ray that will show the dentist where the cavity is, as well as how deep it is.

The dentist will then apply a numbing gel to the site of the filling, and a local anaesthetic is administered via an injection. Remember, the dentist will apply a numbing gel to the filling sit so that you register this injection as little more than a pinch. Once the anaesthetic has turned the area numb, a cotton roll is placed between the gum and lip, giving the dentist room to work.

Any decay is removed with a dental drill, and once removed you will be able to decide whether you want an Amalgam or Composite filling.

If you have ever seen completed fillings in the mouths of friends or family, you might have seen a silver coloration on the affected tooth. This is the result of an Amalgam filling. Amalgam fillings cost less and have higher durability – delaying the need for further work done on that tooth even further. However, they do not come in tooth colours, and also require a larger area of the tooth to be prepared.

Composite fillings, however, are made of composite resin. They are tooth coloured and require less preparation area, however, they do incur a higher cost.

For composite fillings, a self-etching adhesive is applied to the inside of the tooth, as drilled out by the dentist. The adhesive is then dried, and then reapplied and cured. A syringe with the composite resin injects it into the area, then packed in and smoothed out. The filling is then cured before being polished.

With Amalgam fillings, a section of Amalgam is placed into the prepped area of the tooth, which is then packed in, smoothed out and cured before being polished.

Root Canal

We’ve all heard of root canals. They’re that procedure that the fish in the dentists’ office were so interested in in Finding Nemo. While the procedure is clearly done without anaesthetic for comedy purposes in the film and one of the main sources of fear the dentist, in real life a root canal is much less painful.

Teeth have three distinct parts. The enamel, which is the outer-most section we see when we smile; the dentin, which is hard inner tissue which the enamel protects; and the pulp, which is soft tissue designed to house the tooth’s nerve endings. Root canals are used to treat disease or damage to affected tooth pulp.

The tooth is numbed using an injection. This will be the most painful part of the operation, and after the injection is given, the procedure will be completely painless. Once the anaesthetic has been applied, a plastic shield is used to isolate the affected tooth, keeping it dry and clean.

An opening is made through the crown of the tooth and into the pulp chamber. Fluid is then put into the tooth canals to kill bacteria and rinse out debris. The pulp is then removed, the pulp chamber cleaned, reshaped, and then sealed up and filled with a temporary crown. After this has been done, you will need to make an appointment with your dentist to get a standard filling, as root canals are performed by specialists called an endodontist.

Dental Crowns

These are used for weak teeth, teeth that need a bridge, or teeth that are extremely discoloured. The procedure to get a crown installed usually takes 2 visits over a week or two. Beating anxiety of the dentist can mean you have this procedure done sooner, and you can reap the benefits of having strong and healthy teeth.

On the first visit, your teeth will be examined, then the tooth (or teeth) getting the crown are filed down and the dentist will take an impression of your teeth. You will then be given a temporary crown to wear before your second visit.

The impression will be sent to a lab where the techs there will custom create the crown for your teeth. This normally takes a week or so.

After your dental crown has arrived, you can schedule the second visit with your dentist, where the crown will be installed, checked for a good fit, and then permanently fixed in place.

There is no pain during this procedure.


Extractions involve the full removal of an entire tooth and are often portrayed in the media as extremely painful, and just the word its self can provoke some fear of the dentist. While this was true once, modern science allows dentists to perform extractions with little more than mild discomfort for the patient.

Simple extractions are performed after first administering a local anaesthetic, after which the patient will only feel pressure on the tooth during the procedure. Dentists use a special tool to sever the ligament that attached to tooth to the bone, and then removed.

During surgical extractions that are required for very severely impacted wisdom tooth removal, the patient is put to sleep. No pain will be felt until after the operation, where standard painkillers can help numb the ache.

Teeth Whitening

More and more people are having this procedure done, and there are not many methods  that will result in pain. The method we are going through today however does not involve pain, as it uses a variety of chemicals to disintegrate the yellow stain from the enamel.

During the chemical procedure, a bleach solution is painted onto the teeth, and a gingival barrier is applied to protect the gums from other chemicals used during the procedure. The barrier is then cured using a curing light. After the barrier is fully cured, a hydrogen peroxide gel is applied to the teeth, and after 10 minutes is slightly agitated. After 20 minutes, the gel is removed then reapplied, where it is left for 3-5 minutes. After this, the gel is cleaned, and the gingival barrier removed.

How to overcome dentist anxiety


There are some commonly utilised and very well-known methods of conquering, or at least managing the fear response.

The first is a breathing exercise, designed to slow down the intake of breath associated with panic, lower the surge of adrenalin, and give you the feeling of control of your body. Simply breathe in for 7 seconds, then out for 11 seconds. This will help manage your symptoms.

This breathing exercise will help calm you down, allowing you to perform the following steps easier. The second this to do is to imagine the procedure while doing the above exercise. If you can do the breathing exercise while imagining the procedure, it will help your body become accustom to it and any perceived threat from the procedure.

Analysing the fear for what it is can also take your mind of the fear itself. If you can think “What am I afraid of? The pain. Why am I afraid of it? The pain. Why am I afraid of the pain? Because my brain perceives pain as a threat” etc, then it will take your mind of feeling the fear and put it into an understandable context.

If these still aren’t working, then simply remove yourself from whatever situation is causing the anxiety, perform the 7/11 breathing method, and count down from a fear scale of 10 to 1, with 10 being the most afraid. Once you have counted down, imagine the procedure being performed with you in a calm, controlled state.

Call ProSmiles Complete Health Dentistry Today!

After having read through this article, if you have questions regarding anything about your procedure, you can feel free to call ProSmiles Complete Health Dentistry on (03) 9077 9953 or email us on We will more than happily answer any questions you may have regarding your treatment.

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