For some, the thought of going to the dentist is a nerve-wracking experience. Whether it’s based on a negative previous incident or a fear of what could happen, dental anxiety can be a real problem. Thankfully, you can overcome dental anxiety.
Because oral health is so important, practicing these steps can allow you to visit the dentist for standard procedures like cleanings or more specialized operations like a root canal or surgery.
How Common is Dental Anxiety?
Firstly, it’s important to realize that you’re not alone. Dental anxiety is relatively common, as it affects up to 36% of adults in the United States. Around 12% have an extreme fear, which often prevents them from going to the dentist at all. Unfortunately, avoiding the dentist can lead to problems like cavities, gingivitis, and even tooth decay.
Five Ways to Overcome Dental Anxiety
Visiting the dentist can be a more comfortable experience than you might anticipate. Often, any stress stems from past negative encounters or concerns about potential pain and discomfort during the process.
Here are five tips to help you potentially overcome this anxiety and take charge of your oral health. That said, keep in mind that some tactics may work better for you than others. Also, what works for one person may not work for another, so it’s best to focus on your own progress and not compare yourself to anyone else.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Stress can trigger various reactions in the body, such as heavy breathing, elevated blood pressure, and even symptoms like dizziness or nausea. If you find yourself feeling anxious, you can try different relaxation techniques. These strategies are designed to help calm the mind and body, and they can be remarkably effective.
Some examples of relaxation techniques include:
- Deep Breathing – Focusing on your breathing is an excellent way to take your mind off other preoccupations.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation – This process is when you clench different muscles in the body and then release the tension, allowing them to relax.
- Visualization – Sometimes, visualizing yourself in a peaceful or serene environment can help alleviate anxiety. You can enhance the experience via music or environmental sounds (i.e., rushing water).
- Self Massage – Massaging your neck, shoulders, and face can help center your mind and body and allow you to relieve anxiety and tension.
Talk With Your Dentist About Your Anxiety
Dentists are there to help you take care of your teeth and oral hygiene. So, talking about your anxiety and what triggers it can be an excellent way to work through it. For example, many people feel anxious when they see dental tools. One option is for the dentist to explain each tool and show how it works in detail.
Another option may be to use noise-canceling headphones so you can’t hear the tools when they’re on. In many cases, the sounds of electric devices can be enough to trigger an anxiety attack.
Come to Your Appointment With a Loved One
If your friends or family know about your dental anxiety, they can be a valuable resource to help you overcome it. Sometimes, just holding a loved one’s hand can be enough to alleviate the effects of dental anxiety.
So, scheduling your dental appointment with a loved one can help you feel calmer and more optimistic about the experience. While they may not be able to be in the room with you, knowing they’re waiting for you can still offer relief.
Although there are limitations to the types of distractions you can use during a dental visit, you can try different options to see what works best. For example, listening to music may calm your nerves. Some dentists may have TVs above the chair, so you can watch something during a procedure or cleaning.
Another alternative is sleep dentistry, which is when you are sedated beforehand. Some dentists specialize in this treatment, although it’s often reserved for those with extreme dental anxiety.
Change Your Mindset About Dental Care
It’s common for individuals to harbor apprehensions about dental visits, often fixating on potential pain and discomfort. Yet, rather than dwelling on the negatives, consider adopting a more optimistic outlook. Focus on the refreshing cleanliness your mouth will experience, and take proactive steps to reduce any discomfort through consistent oral hygiene practices. Your mindset significantly influences your mood, so making this shift can yield markedly more positive results.
Take Care of Your Oral Health With Sedaros
Oral health involves a lot more than brushing and flossing. At Sedaros Dental Surgery Melbourne, we focus on oral surgeries and implant procedures to help you have the brightest smile possible. Because these procedures are more intense, we work with you to alleviate any concerns that may trigger dental anxiety. Please ask questions and contact us whenever you feel comfortable. We’re here for you.