If you find yourself getting a little bit nervous when your dental visit date approaches, you are not alone. Studies show one in six patients have some form of fear of the dentist.
So what stops us?
A few common reasons why people may put off their dental treatment is:
● Previous distressing experience
● Fear of the unknown
● Avoidance of any potential discomforts
● Not having the time to make self care a priority.
● Sound of the drills
● Feelings of powerlessness when reclined back in the chair
While dental anxiety is perfectly normal, it is crucial for your dental and overall health that you get in to see a dentist regularly. Unfortunately, the longer we put it off – the worse a problem may get and costlier to fix. Regular visits help your dental team identify issues early, which can be treated with more superficial minimally invasive dentistry.
If you’re eager to conquer your fears and get your oral health back on track, here are some of the recommended strategies for coping with the fear of the dentist and dental treatments.
- Talk to your dentist about your anxiety, and together you can create a strategy to suit your needs:
Some patients feel better if the dentist tells them what is happening at every step of the process. Other patients prefer to have the dentist talk about something other than the work that is being done. Dentists understand and empathize with nervous patients, and they know how to spot the signs of dental anxiety. Please don’t be embarrassed to talk openly with your dentist about your specific or general fears so they can tailor your visit to your needs as much as possible.
- Establish a signal for when you need a break:
If you raise your hand, it means you would like a break for a minute.
- Listen to your favorite music, podcast, or audiobook:
We have noise-canceling headphones available. You can bring your music or listen to, close your eyes and concentrate on your favorite songs and before you know it – it’s all done! Dr. Josh has been known to quietly sing along as you humm your way through the treatment!
- Bring a friend:
Bringing a friend can help to know you have someone you trust sitting in the waiting room and keeping you calm.
- Have something to hold:
Kids may want to cuddle a teddy bear. Adults may choose to have a worry stone, a stress relief ball, or a handgrip to squeeze during treatment.
- Picture yourself somewhere else:
Visualization techniques such as imagining you’re on the beach watching the waves can help relax you.
- Silently repeat a mantra:
Do you know how people always say think good thoughts? It’s true. Telling yourself simple mantras like “I am okay” or “I am safe” can help keep you calm.
- Consider medication:
Before your appointment, call your dentist about your fears and discuss whether you should take a prescription. Make sure you follow your dentist’s instructions regarding any medication.
- Consider sedation dentistry:
In extreme cases, there are some patients whose anxiety has reached the point of becoming a phobia. In these cases, talk to your dentist about whether twilight sedation may be appropriate.
The most important thing to remember is there are ways to cope with dental anxiety so you or someone you love can have a beautiful and healthy smile. The first step is to talk to your dentist. Don’t let the worry keep you back. Make an appointment today to maintain your oral health on track!