Tips for Taking Control of your Dental Anxiety
Fear and severe anxiety are the reactions of as many as a third of all Americans when they think about going to the dentist. Many will never go at all, and a lot of others will go to the dentist only when absolutely necessary.
However, good oral health is important to your overall health and quality of life. So if you suffer from dental anxiety of fear, here are some tips and ideas that may help you overcome those obstacles and see one of our dentists at Personal Care Dentistry.
How to Overcome Common Reasons for Dental Anxiety
- Fear of the Unknown
Schedule a meeting time with your dentist to just talk over the procedures and help you better understand what is going to be done and how long it should take. Having knowledge of the process and what to expect can help calm anxiety.
- Fear of Dental Equipment
Sometimes, the scariest part of the dental visit is having those strange, sharp, metal tools stuck into your mouth. What can help ease this fear is to ask to hold the tools first, just so they don’t seem so foreign.
- Sensitive Gag Reflex
People with a sensitive gag reflex may loathe the part of the dentist’s visit where those tabs are put in the mouth for the dental X-ray. These days, newer dentist offices offer digital X-rays.
- Fear of Loud Noises
Those dental tools can be really loud, and the noise can stir up fear in some people. So, consider wearing earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to block out the sound.
- Feeling Uncomfortable Lying Back In a Dentist’s Chair
Some people may be uncomfortable with something as simple as lying back in the dentist’s chair, due to a bad back or some control issues. A simple remedy may be for the dentist to only put the patient half-back so that it’s more comfortable. Or, a dentist could provide positioning pillows for people who feel aches and pains for being in a laid-back position.
- Unable To Breathe Through the Nose
Are you a mouth-breather, who feels like you’re being stifled if you can only breathe through your nose? That could be an issue at a dentist visit, where the dentist must work in the mouth, which can make mouth-breathing hard.
Nasal strips can help patients to help them breathe through their nose. Or, nitrous oxide can help you relax and breathe better – all depending on the situation.
Tell your dentist you are afraid, even when setting up an appointment and make sure the dentist is prepared to listen. If you can’t talk about it you can’t get over it.
Chances are, visiting a dentist won’t be nearly as painful as you expect. Surveys of patients before and after the most dreaded procedures – such as a root canal or wisdom tooth extraction – have found that they anticipated much more discomfort than they actually experienced.
Here are a few tips that may help you overcome your fear of the dentist:
Go to that first visit with someone you trust, such as a close relative or friend who has no fear of dentists.
Seek distraction while in the dentist’s chair. Listen to your own music on headphones.
Try relaxation techniques like controlled breathing — taking a big breath, holding it, and letting it out very slowly, like you are a leaky tire. This will slow your heartbeat and relax your muscles. Another technique is progressive muscle relaxation, which involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in turn.
Review with your dentist which sedatives are available or appropriate. Options can include local anesthetic, nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”), oral sedatives, and intravenous sedation.
The best dentists use simple methods to enhance that feeling of control:
They gently explain what the patient will soon feel, and for about how long.
They frequently ask the patient for permission to continue.
They give the patient the opportunity to stop the procedure at any time the patient feels uncomfortable.
They make time for breaks as requested.
Give us a call at Personal Care Dentistry and make an appointment to meet with one of our dentists to discuss your dental fear and anxiety and how our practice can help you reduce or overcome your fear and get your oral health issues effectively resolved.
Sources: WebMD, Huffington Post
Does the thought of the whirring sound of a drill or previous painful experience have your stomach in knots before seeing a dentist? Read our blog on shaking dental phobia.