How to Battle and Overcome Dental Anxiety
Dental visits are necessary for maintaining good oral hygiene, but dental anxiety, or apprehension over dental visits, prevents some people from visiting the dentist. Dental anxiety is a frequent issue that affects up to 36% of the population.
Rather than putting off appointments, here are some strategies for dealing with dental anxiety, as well as some signs and causes.
Causes of Dental Anxiety
Some common causes of dental anxiety can include:
- previous traumatic dental encounters
- dread of pain
- the fear of not being in control of your body
- trust concerns due to a past of anxiety disorders
- fear of dental tools like needles and drilling
- violation of personal space
- fear of anesthetic failure or adverse effects
How Dental Anxiety Can Affect Your Oral Health
Attempting to avoid the dentist can lead to worsening dental disease, a greater need for emergency treatments, or more complex treatments. It can also exacerbate the underlying issue of dental anxiety.
Regular dental check-ups, cleanings, and X-rays of the teeth can help prevent dental disease and assist the dentist in detecting any problems early, allowing for simpler and far less intrusive treatments. Dentists check for signs of mouth cancer during routine checks, which is particularly important for those who smoke or drink alcohol on a regular basis, and even more so for those that do both.
The majority of dental disease is preventable and is caused by poor lifestyle choices. By avoiding going to get cosmetic dental help, you not only increase your chances of needing more complex treatments when you finally do go, but you also miss out on learning how to better care for your oral health.
Tips on How to Overcome Your Dental Anxiety
People of all ages might be affected by dental anxiety. Here are some coping methods to help you overcome your worries and return to your dental care and enhance your overall health.
Let Your Dentist Know
Do not be afraid to express your worries to your dental professional. They can take measures to make the process go more smoothly. They can walk you through each process from beginning to end so you understand what is expected. They might also suggest relaxation methods to help you relax and feel more at ease throughout your session.
All questions and concerns will be answered to your satisfaction before any procedures are to go forward. Many offices are aware of dental anxieties and have decor and other protocols to help you feel relaxed before you meet the dentist. You will feel less anxious if you understand the procedures your dentist with your permission and consent will accomplish for your smile.
Get in the Right Headspace
Take some time before your appointment to get in the right frame of mind. Many people find that stretches, meditation, or deep controlled breathing are beneficial.
If you have severe anxiety, you should contact your dentist and inquire about what type of sedation techniques might be appropriate to help you relax even more.
To help reduce your anxiety, the dentist may make a decision to use nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and/or sedative treatments to help you overcome any apprehensions to proceed with a consultation or treatment. During your consultation, the dentist or treatment coordinator can go over these options and create a customized routine to meet your specific needs. These anti-anxiety medications are exceptionally effective and safe.
Bring a Friend
A relative or friend’s encouragement could help you relax. Inquire with your dentist about bringing a friend or family member into the exam room with you. Even if you are unable to communicate with this person throughout your session, their presence can make you feel more secure, at ease, and calm.
When you’re anxious, it may seem impossible to divert your attention off the dental treatment, but there are several things that can help you do so:
- Put on your headphones. If the sound of the drill disturbs you, bring headphones and listen to music or an audiobook instead. Some dental offices even feature TVs or DVD players.
- Squeeze a stress ball or play with a small handheld device like a fidget spinner to keep your hands occupied.
- Visualize yourself in a quiet beach or park in your comfortable place.
- Bring eye covers/sleep mask
Ask A Lot of Questions
Express any concerns, questions, or discomfort you have throughout your appointments with the dentist. The dental staff is there to assist you. Do you have a question regarding a certain instrument or treatment? Ask! Do you need a break because you’re starting to feel anxious? Notify your dentist.
Whatever your cause, the proper dental team will look after both your dental and emotional wellness. The longer you put off going to the dentist, the greater your risk of developing small or large problems. Starting your dental journey no matter how long your last visit has been from seeing a dentist it is never too late to slowly build a healthy, happy and functioning smile.