Many people experience feelings of fear and uneasiness about visiting the dentist. This is known as dental anxiety, and it’s fairly common. For some people, the fear is extreme, and it causes them to avoid the dentist altogether. Unfortunately, the longer a person avoids the dentist, the higher the likelihood of developing dental complications. Problems with oral health can become serious problems with overall health, making it even more important to visit your dentist regularly. If fear and uneasiness about visiting the dentist is keeping you from getting the care you need, take a look at these 8 tips for dealing with dental anxiety.
1. Talk to your dentist about your fears
One of the most important things you can do is discuss your fears openly with your dentist. This will do two things. First, it will give the dentist the opportunity to help you, and second it will let you know whether or not this is the right dentist for you. If you feel like your fears are being dismissed by this dentist, then chances are you will not be able to feel comfortable with them when it’s time for treatment. This leads us to #2.
2. Find a new dentist if you need to
Trusting your dentist is key to overcoming dental anxiety. The more comfortable you feel with your dentist, the better the chances of relaxing in the dentist’s chair. If you are uncomfortable with your dentist for any reason (aside from the fact that he or she is a dentist in the first place), it may be best to find a new one. Referrals from friends and family are your best bet. If you know someone who absolutely loves their dentist, start there. When you do meet a new dentist, be sure to communicate your fears right away and pay careful attention to their response. It’s important to get a feel for the hygienist as well.
3. Practice relaxation techniques
Prior to your dentist appointments, it can help to practice relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation. Even a good long run or bike ride will help promote relaxation so that by the time you’re in the dentist’s chair, your nervous system is calm and steady.
4. Take great care of your teeth
If you go into each dental appointment knowing that you’ve done your best to care for your teeth since the last appointment, you’ll be more likely to feel hopeful about having a good experience rather than fearful about having a bad experience.
5. Attend all your scheduled appointments
Dental anxiety causes many people to cancel appointments or procrastinate scheduling them. But the longer you go without seeing your dentist, the more you’ll fear returning. Not only can your fear grow in that time, but without regular dental checkups, you also run the risk of developing decay or other dental complications. When only six months have passed and you know you’ve been brushing and flossing consistently, relaxation in the chair is more likely.
6. Bring a loved one with you to your appointment
Studies have shown that holding the hand of a loved one during stressful situations can significantly reduce anxiety. Ask your dentist if your loved one can accompany you into the room and hold your hand during the procedure. The presence of a loved one can help alleviate dental anxiety even if they don’t come into the room with you. Just knowing they’re nearby and available may help ease your mind.
7. Bring a weighted blanket
Weighted blankets can increase feelings of comfort and wellbeing in a number of different situations, including the dentist chair. The pressure of the blanket helps activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which lowers your heart rate when you’re stressed. This produces an overall calming effect that can be highly beneficial for various types of anxiety, including dental anxiety.
8. Ask your dentist about sedation dentistry
If you’ve tried everything to relax in the dentist’s chair but you’re still unable to stay long enough to get the treatment you need, your dentist may be able to provide you with prescription medication to calm and relax you. Oral sedation does not involve any needles or injections, but you will need to have someone drive you to your appointment.
Compassionate dental care at San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry
At San Diego Periodontics and Implant Dentistry, we value open communication, and we’re committed to patient comfort. If you experience dental anxiety, we’re happy to discuss solutions with you. Please give us a call at (619) 543-0905 to schedule a consultation today.