Overcoming Dental Anxiety

Overcoming Dental Anxiety

Many people have ‘dental phobias’ which prevent them from getting treatment they may need. In fact about 13% of people experience dental fears. St Lawrence Dentistry encourages you to open up about any dental anxiety you have with so we can make your visit to our office the best possible and get any work you need done in a relaxed manner.


Dental fears are most often caused by bad, or in some cases, horrific experiences. Sometimes it could be related from pain due to local anesthetic not being optimal and sometimes it is due to childhood memories of dental visits. Dental fears are also common in people that have went through traumatic experiences in their life unrelated to dentistry and they find it difficult putting their trust in anyone. If this fear is combined with negative feedback from a dental or medical professional during an appointment it can exacerbate the situation even more.

Many people assume, even some dental professionals, that it is the fear of pain which is the number one reason why people avoid the dentist. However, it is more to do with the combination of this fear and the attitude and personality of the deal professional. If the dental professional is perceived as cold and controlling then this can have a negative emotional effect on the patient they are trying to treat. Dr. Hawryluk Jr. is used to working with people with anxiety and has the patience and gentle demeanour which are needed to help a nervous person get their dental work done.


In children, some fear is related to observational learning. If they see their parents are nervous about dentistry they make pick up on this and also have anxiety even though they never had a bad experience themselves. Sometimes negative depictions in cartoons can potentiate this unnecessary childhood fear. If a parent is acting anxious themselves while the dentist is trying to get their child’s work done, it can create a downturn in the dental treatment room. This is because they may portray to too much negative drama to their child in an an otherwise simple situation of doing a dental procedure. Dr. Hawryluk thinks its great to have parents in the dental operatory with their children. However, in the cases of nervous parent onlookers, it could be counter productive. Dr. Hawryluk Jr. can have a discussion with you, the parent, about what the of scenario will be best to facilitate getting the needed dental work done on your child.

The first step of overcoming any fears of dentistry is finding the right dentist who is capable of understanding your real or perceived fears. Not every dentist may be right for you. You may want to talk to your friends or co-workers or go meet with different dental offices to help find an environment you find the most calming and comfortable. Feel free to call or email our courteous staff if you have any specific questions about our office. If you choose St. Lawrence Dentistry, Dr. Hawryluk Jr. will ask you about what in the past has bothered or frightened you to help plan your dental experience.


The next step will be having a complete dental exam at our office. During this visit there is absolutely nothing to worry about as no dental work will be done at this visit. In many cases x-rays will be taken and Dr. Hawryluk will take detailed notes about your teeth. He will give you an overview about what he has found (if anything). If needed, an exam report can be made for you explaining in detail the full situation about your teeth and what is needed. After you have read your exam report you may have some points on which you may have further questions or need clarifications on. We suggest that you then have a post-exam consultation with Dr. Hawryluk Jr. which will be an opportunity to discuss your questions about the report and also go over how any work needed could inter-relate to your dental anxiety. There is no additional charge from the post-exam consultation and can be done in office during business hours or by scheduled evening telephone call. Typically these booked evening calls take place mon-thurs at 8:30pm as we work at the office until 6pm and then need a couple hours of personal time thereafter.

Many patients with mild dental anxiety turn out to be fine being treated with simply local anesthetic. The key here is really the gentle approach taken by Dr. Hawryluk for these patients. Our goals at the start may be conservative and we may set out just to accomplish something simple on your first dental treatment visit and then build upon that. For example, if its dental fillings which are needed, we may just do the easiest one first and book more than enough time and take breaks during the procedure for your comfort. Every situation is different in patients with dental anxiety and we will figure out what works for you.


If you need a dental cleaning and your gums are tender a lot of times our friendly hygienists can use Cetacaine topical anesthetic. This is a very powerful topical anesthetic (not injected) can make dental cleanings much more comfortable. Cetcaine only takes 30-60 seconds to take effect (onset of action) and lasts about thirty minutes. Please inform the staff you you feel you may be pregnant as it is not used during early pregnancy. Dr. Hawryluk will see if the Cetacaine is right for your situation and will tailor the teeth cleaning protocol the hygienists will follow specifically to you. While Cetacaine is great for greatly reducing gum tenderness during cleanings, it does not help with tooth sensitivity during this process. If your teeth are sensitive Dr. Hawryluk may advise the dental hygienists not to use the ultrasonic instruments as these vibrate the tooth and can innervate the tooth nerve much more easily than the hand cleaning instruments. Typically, if the hand instruments are used to clean teeth it does not cause any sensitivity. If ultrasonic instruments will be needed for your cleaning then Dr. Hawryluk may use some local anesthetic freezing. Whatever the case we will ensure you are as comfortable as possible and keep any dental anxiety in mind.

If you would like to learn more about Cetacaine please visit this site:


Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas) can help some patients with dental anxiety but not all. It provides a light floating feeling with can allay some anxiety. St. Lawrence Dentistry has used laughing gas extensively and understands there is also some drawbacks in its use with nervous patients. Nitrous oxide requires cables affixed to a nosepiece. This immobilizes a persons head during the dental procedure which can actually add to the stress of an already anxious patient. After a treatment is completed with laughing gas, the dentist must give at least a minute of 100% oxygen given to you. This titration and post treatment oxygen time makes it cumbersome to give frequent breaks to patients where they can sit up and relax during a treatment. Nevertheless, there are some amazing benefits of laughing gas and we can see if it is a right fit for you.

To learn more about some advantages of Nitrous Oxide please visit us here:

Nitrous Oxide Mississauga On


Very mild sedation via Ativan (Lorazepam) tablets are very effective for patients with dental phobias or anxiety. Even if you aren not anxious about dentistry, Ativan can give a nice relaxed calm feeling which is especially nice for longer dental procedures such as molar root canal treatment. At our office we have sublingual Ativan tablets so there is no need for you to get for a pharmacy prescription. Dr. Hawryluk will determine the best dose for you to take, and we may titrate (give the doses in intervals) to you to get to the optimal level. Ativan in our office is only for very mild sedation and this along with a gentle dentist like Dr. Hawryluk is all that is needed for many people to overcome anxiety. In general small peopler people or those affected more easily by medications will get a 1mg dose and the amount may go up to 2mg for others who are larger or more resistant to the affects of Ativan. If you would like Ativan for your dental procedure please inform us in advance. We may ask you to come a bit earlier than your scheduled appointment so we can give you the tablets beforehand so they will be in affect by the time we bring you to the treatment room. Please be aware that you cannot drive after taking Ativan and you will need someone to pick you up after your dental appointment. For mild to moderate dental anxiety, Ativan dental sedation could be an excellent option for you. If you are looking for a dentist in the Mississauga area, consider scheduling an appointment with Dr. Hawryluk to see what the best anti-anxiety relaxing method would be best in your unique situation.


St. Lawrence Dentistry can offer treatment fully asleep for those patients with more severe dental phobias. Since 2005 we have been licensed by the Royal Collage of Dental Surgeons of Ontario to provide dental services asleep. Anesthetic services are provided by a Board Certified Medical Anesthesiologists at our Mississauga office. Sometimes we can divide your dental treatment into both awake an asleep. In other words, some easier treatments to sit thru like dental exams, x-rays, and fillings can be done awake and then more involved treatments like wisdom teeth removals, or dental implants can be done asleep. The advantage of this approach, if possible, is it will limit the amount of general anesthetic time winch means less cost from the independent anesthesiologist.

To learn more about dentistry asleep at St. Lawrence Dentistry please visit us here:

Dentistry Asleep (Sedation Dentistry)

Sometimes relaxation and visualization the night before your dental appointment can help. Visualization techniques before your appointment can mentally prepare you for a positive dental experience. Basically, while you relax the night before, you want to imagine your your whole dental appointment the next day from start to finish. The imagery in your mind should be of you feeling at ease, unfazed by the dentistry, and feeling just fine. Sometimes a small dose of Ativan the night before can enhance the relaxing while you do the imagery preparation. Dr. Hawryluk has found relaxation apps like ‘Calm’ can help put you in a placid state both before and during your appointment. Actually ‘Calm’ is a great app to use everyday as it has short interesting stories which can help you sleep and unwind from your day.


If you would like more information on ‘Calm’ please follow this link:


If you have dental anxiety there is no need to worry. St. Lawrence Dentistry will ensure your comfort during any dentistry you may need. If you live in the Mississauga area and are looking for a dentist please give us a call.

80 Port St East Suite H

Mississauga, Ontario
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(905) 278-1649

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