28 Nov Overcoming Dental Anxiety: How to Get Rid of Anxiety Over Seeing General Dentist
A study in the Dental Research Journal revealed that nearly 60% of Americans experience dental anxiety.
Individuals who have dental anxiety may experience fear or stress when they visit the dentist. Many people end up avoiding dental appointments altogether because of their anxiety.
If you’re experiencing dental anxiety–you’re not alone–and there’s something you can do about it. Keep reading to learn ways to overcome your fear of seeing the general dentist.
Why Do So Many People Have Dental Anxiety?
There are three main things that people fear when going to the dentist: pain, loss of control, and embarrassment. Many people may anticipate pain when visiting the dentist, especially if they haven’t been there for a while and their teeth need extensive care.
Others may fear loss of control. You’re sitting in chair unable to move or speak properly. It’s an uncomfortable and overwhelming feeling.
Another stressor is the embarrassment. Many people are embarrassed at the state of their teeth, and they don’t want their dentist to judge or chastise them.
Tips for Dealing with Dental Anxiety
Your next dental office visit doesn’t have to be riddled with anxiety. Let’s take a look at how you can deal with your dental phobia.
Identify Your Fears
The first step is to identify what you’re afraid of. Is it the sound of the drill? The fact that you can’t move or speak during procedures?
To understand your anxiety, you have to address your fears. You can write them down and take the list with you at your next dental appointment to discuss with your dentist.
Choose the Right Dentist
If you’re not comfortable with your dentist, it will be difficult to move past your fears. You want to choose a dentist that will listen to your worries and offer solutions to make your experience comfortable.
Spend some time researching dentists in your area. Ask friends for recommendations and read online reviews.
After you make a list of potential dentists, call each one and speak to the staff. Ask them how they accommodate patients with dental anxiety. You can even visit their office to get a feel of the atmosphere.
It’s important you spend time choosing someone that can work with you to help alleviate your fears.
Communicate with Your Dentist Before Treatments
After you choose the right dentist, you can talk to them before each treatment and ask them what you can expect. If you fear pain, you can ask them to give you a comparison of how treatments will feel like.
Many times, people fear the anticipation of pain–not the actual pain itself. If you know what to expect, such as a needle poke, you might spend less time stressing.
You can also develop a system of hand signals during treatment. You can signal to the dentist when you need to stop or take a break. This allows you to have control over your treatment.
Try a Mindfulness Meditation
While sitting in the waiting room, you can do a mini mindfulness meditation to relieve stress. Mindfulness meditation can help improve your cardiovascular health and mental health. It can also lower your stress levels and blood pressure.
If you have 30 seconds, you try this:
- Sit up straight
- Take a breath in
- Take a breath out
- Take a slower, deeper breath in
- Take a slower, deeper breath out
- Repeat as needed
When an upsetting thought about the dentist intrudes, notice the thoughts and allow them to pass by. Go back to your breathing.
Why does this work? Deep breaths help reduce the flight or flight response that your body experiences under stress. It helps you take control of your feelings.
Listen to Music During Treatment
Another tip to relieve your dental anxiety is to listen to music during treatment. You can put on headphones and listen to songs that soothe you. This can help block out the clinking of dental tools which can ramp up your anxiety.
Many dental offices also play a movie for patients to focus on during visits. You can focus on the sounds and action of the movie to distract yourself from the dentist.
Don’t Schedule Appointments in Between Busy Days
When you schedule an appointment, don’t try to sandwich it in between a hectic day. You will feel more stressed if you’re rushing to make your appointment during your work lunch hour.
Instead, take a few hours off in the morning to have plenty of time to go before work. Or, you can see if your dentist offers Saturday appointments–which many do these days.
Bring a Friend with You
You can bring a support person with you to help with your anxiety. This should be a person that isn’t afraid of the dentist and can help cheer you up. You want someone who will acknowledge your fears without dismissing them.
You can ask your dentist if your support person can be with you during your treatment.
Ask Your Dentist About Sedatives
Another solution you can consider is having your dentist administer sedatives during your appointments. You can talk to your dentist and see if it’s appropriate to use a sedative such as nitrous oxide.
Seek Professional Help
If you’re looking for a permanent, long-term solution of your dental phobia, you might want to seek professional help.
A psychologist can help assess your fears and can work with you to find solutions for your dental anxiety.
Final Thoughts About Visiting the General Dentist
You should be proud of yourself for taking steps toward improving your oral health.
Our general dentist office in New Braunfels, TX focuses on creating a compassionate, warm setting with our patient-first attitude. Contact us today to learn more about how we can work with you to help relieve your dental anxieties.