Dental anxiety is surprisingly common, and most people feel a little nervous about sitting in the chair. However, you should never let being afraid of visiting the dentist interfere with your oral health.
Today, dentists are able to use a variety of techniques to help keep cleanings and other treatments as comfortable as possible. Whether your dental fears arose from a single painful episode or you’ve always avoided going to the dentist, use these strategies to overcome your anxiety and take care of your smile.
Identify the Underlying Fear of Dental Anxiety
There are many reasons why people fear going to the dentist. For some people, the prospect of having someone peer into their mouth inspires social anxiety. Alternatively, you may fear the possibility of something hurting during an exam or treatment procedure.
Some people just prefer to avoid having to sit in one place for any length of time. Spend some time thinking about what you do not like about going to the dentist so that you can come up with solutions. For instance, you could break up visits into shorter sessions if you get anxious sitting for long periods of time or talk about pain management strategies to help you avoid discomfort.
Communicate With Your Dentist
Dentists are well aware that some people experience dental anxiety regarding their appointments. Make sure to choose a dentist that makes patient comfort a priority.
Then, let the office staff know about your worries when you call to schedule your appointment. They may be able to do things such as allow you to come in prior to your exam just to meet your dentist and the rest of the staff.
Your dentist can also help you feel more in control during your appointments by establishing a signal that you can use when you need to take a break such as raising your hand.
Bring a Distraction
You can use a variety of tools to help keep your mind from dwelling on dental anxiety. Consider bringing some headphones and your favorite playlist to help drown out the sound of the dental tools.
You might also enjoy using a fidget toy such as a stress ball to help keep your hands busy during the appointment. If you find that you get stressed out in the waiting room, then ask a friend to accompany you to the appointment so that you can stay distracted with a soothing conversation.
Try Relaxation Techniques
People with serious anxiety can often find relief by practicing relaxation techniques such as mindfulness or meditation. Before your appointment, try out a few exercises such as deep breathing or visualizing yourself in a comfortable environment such as the beach to find one that works best for you.
Then, use this technique before your appointment, and remember that you can also practice strategies such as visualization during your exams and treatments.
When dental fears cause you to put off those important appointments, it is time to take action. Always let your dentist know if you feel uncomfortable about any part of visiting their office. This way, you can work together to find ways to make your next dental appointment more enjoyable.