Tips To Relieving Dental Anxiety For A Stress Free Dentist Experience
Visiting the dentist can be quite the exciting prospect – especially if you want something done with that toothache, if you want your teeth to be in the best shade of white, or if you simply want to get that appointment for your oral health. Unfortunately, not everyone looks at the prospect of visiting a dentist the same way someone yearns excitedly to go to their favorite restaurant. Dental anxiety is something that can seriously hinder someone from getting the right kind of dental health care they need – but this can actually be managed given the right kind of patience, effort, and planning. Below will be some tips to relieving dental anxiety for a stress free dentist experience.
Dental Anxiety: Just What Is It?
However, before one conquers dental anxiety, perhaps it’s important to put things into perspective first. Dental anxiety is a kind of anxiety people experience that makes them have a fight-or-flight response when they have to visit the dentist. For some, this means having your life “on the line” as being at the dentist is a matter of “life or death.” This kind of anxiety – sometimes known as odontophobia or dentophobia – can come from a variety of things such as previous traumatic experiences, feeling extremely uncomfortable during a particular procedure, or seeing someone having to undergo a procedure that is “scary” for the person in question.
Conquering Dental Anxiety: Getting That Stress-Free Experience
With the numbers above, it’s perhaps safe to assume that regular visits to the dentist are indeed essential for your dental health. Unfortunately, this isn’t the easiest thing to do if you get anxiety whenever you know you need to go to the dentist. Conquering this, however, isn’t impossible. Aside from getting yourself a sedation dentist, there might be better ways of naturally helping you cope with your anxiety. Here are tips to relieving dental anxiety for a stress free dentist experience:
- Come to terms with your fears: Perhaps the most important part when it comes to managing your anxiety with dentists is to actually come to terms with what’s making you feel this way. Try to list down your anxieties and fears and try to narrow down just which procedures or parts of the process that make you feel this way. This list and its accompanying descriptions can help you zero in on your particular problem, and can make it much easier for you to explain your woes to your dentist.
- Find ways to be able to communicate your anxieties and fears: Acknowledging your fear is one thing, but communicating them properly is another. Try to articulate to your dentist just what’s on your mind and what’s making you afraid in order for your treatments to slowly be adjusted to your needs. Sometimes you can begin with milder treatments, so you can get eased into the process before proceeding with more complicated treatments.
- Bring a friend or a relative to appointments: If you feel anxious going to the dentist alone, try to bring a companion along for your treatment. This helps you have a layer of assurance and support that everything will be okay throughout the entire procedure. Try going with someone who’s not afraid of dentists, and try to schedule the appointment in the morning so you won’t have any time panicking.
- See if you can ask for sedatives: Another way for you to be able to help manage your anxiety is to ask the dentist if you can be administered sedatives in order to keep you relaxed and calm during the treatment. These include IV or oral sedation, nitrous oxide, or a local anesthetic. Ask your dentist if these are advisable for your condition, and see which works best for you.
- Rely on relaxation techniques: If you feel as though you always panic during your appointments, try to practice breathing or relaxation exercises. Try to control your breathing by doing big breaths and slow exhalation, so your heartbeat can be slower and your muscles can be more relaxed.
- Try to distract yourself: Another efficient way of managing your anxiety is to actually start distracting yourself during the treatment. You can count to yourself, hold a stress ball, or listen to music while the procedure is happening. You can also watch funny videos or listen to relaxing music prior to the appointment in order to feel calmer and more collected, and therefore more ready, for the procedure.
- Search for the most compatible dentist for you: If you feel as though you really can’t deal with your current dentist because of your fears, perhaps it’s time to make a switch. Try to ask your friends and family for recommendations as to who you can turn to in order to manage your anxiety, as sometimes a change in environment might be able to help you cope with your anxiety. Try to do a search for dentists in your area that specializes with fearful and anxious patients. Once you narrow your list down, try calling them and inquire about your particular situation. Do they appear cooperative, friendly, and approachable? Are they accommodating? Did the dentist in question return your call? If you start feeling comfortable talking with them, perhaps you can schedule an appointment to get a good feel of the place.
- Rewards might work as motivation: If you feel as though you need a form of incentive when you have to go to a dentist, try making a “rewards” system of sorts. Try to treat yourself to a good meal (or even ice cream), or a quick trip to your favorite cafe, or buy yourself something nice if you go to the dentist for your appointment. This can make the entire experience with your dentist something to look forward to.
- Seek psychological and professional help: If you feel as though your anxiety with your dentist is overwhelming to bear, try to seek the help of a professional. Psychologists and therapists might be able to come up with ways and suggestions that are specifically tailored for your situation that might help you adjust with your predicament.
The Bottomline: Conquering Dental Anxiety Takes Patience, Planning
Going to the dentist for your checkup can be quite the daunting thing to process, especially if you have a fear of hearing bad news or being operated on. If the above statistics have given anything, however, it’s that keeping your dental health in tip-top shape can do a great deal in making sure you don’t have any complications happening to you in the future. Unfortunately, while you may acknowledge the importance of these checkups, getting over your dental anxiety may not always be the easiest thing to accomplish. Thankfully the above tips on relieving dental anxiety for a stress free dentist experience may be able to finally get you more relaxed on the dentist chair while you get the right treatment for your beloved teeth.
Gary Schlotterer DDS is the owner of Digital Dentistry at Southpoint. The practice opened in 2003 and is located in Durham, NC. Dr. Schlotterer graduated from Louisiana State University School of Dentistry, Doctor of Dental Surgery. He has two sons and is an avid golfer.