Dental anxiety is a real and common issue that affects many people. According to the Journal of Dental Hygiene, 19% of the American population suffers from moderate to severe dental anxiety.
There are many reasons why someone might experience fear at the dentist’s office. It could be due to a bad experience in the past, or simply because they feel uncomfortable with someone poking around inside their mouth. Whatever the reason, there are many different ways you can manage fear at the dentist’s office. Here’s how.
What Causes Dental Anxiety?
Many people experience some degree of anxiety when visiting any sort of doctor. But for some, their anxiety of the dentist’s office in particular is so severe that it prevents them from seeking necessary care.
While it might be easy for those who don’t struggle with this specific type of anxiety to dismiss the fear as an overreaction, it’s important to understand that dental anxiety is a real and valid condition that can significantly impact a person’s oral health.
Fear of Pain
Many people avoid the dentist for fear of pain, which is understandable considering many dental procedures can be uncomfortable. However, modern dentistry has come a long way in terms of pain management and there are now many ways to help make you more comfortable during your procedure.
Fear of the Unknown
For others, their dental anxiety may be rooted in fear of the unknown. They may not know what to expect when they visit the dentist or what will happen while they are there.
You may benefit from researching the procedure you will have or watching a video of the procedure being performed on someone else first. You can also ask your dentist or another staff member to walk you through the process before starting any treatment.
How to Overcome Dental Anxiety In the Moment
Before your appointment, it’s important to communicate your fear to the dentist and office staff. This will help them understand your anxiety and allow them to take steps to make you more comfortable during your visit. When you arrive for your appointment, let the receptionist know that you are nervous and why.
Practice Deep Breathing
One of the best ways to calm yourself in the moment is by taking deep breaths. This activates your vagus nerve, which helps slow down your heart rate and reduce the amount of adrenaline your body is making in response to a situation you perceive as threatening but actually isn’t.
Try to Distract Yourself
Distractions like music or a television show are a good option for people who don’t want to focus on each step of the procedure or what the dentist is doing.
Dental Anxiety Solutions
Planning ahead can help you prevent dental anxiety at future appointments. If you know that you have a fear of the dentist, you can work with a therapist or counselor beforehand to develop coping strategies that are tailored to your situation.
A therapist may also be able to do some exposure therapy, which gradually exposes you to the things you’re afraid of in a safe and controlled environment. Going to a routine dental appointment could be a part of this kind of treatment.
Another solution to dental anxiety is sedation dentistry. This is when you are given medication to help you relax during your dental appointment. There are different levels of sedation, from light sedation that just helps you feel more relaxed, to general anesthesia where you are completely asleep for the entire procedure. Your dentist will work with you to figure out what’s best for you based on your level of anxiety and the type of procedure being done.
Schedule An Appointment
If you experience anxiety at the dentist, know that you’re not alone. Many people experience fear or nervousness when it comes to visiting the dentist. But you don’t have to let this fear prevent you from getting the care you need. Speak to your dentist or their office staff about the concerns you have to start working towards an effective solution.
Sedaros Oral Facial Surgery & Dental Implants is an oral surgeon in Melbourne, Florida, and our staff takes dental anxiety seriously. We have the understanding and resources to help make your dentist appointment more comfortable. We specialize in dental implants, bone grafting, corrective jaw surgery, and other types of dental surgery in Melbourne. Call Dr. Sedaros today for more information by dialing 321.610.7868.