Dental anxiety affects a large portion of the population. While many have such anxiety, some are so fearful that they can not even get themselves through the dentist’s front door.Statistics show that 15-20% of all Americans avoid the dentist due to fears or anxiety about the dentist. The reasons for anxiety are different for everyone.
These can include fear about feeling rushed by the dentist, possible pain, or even just the smells and sounds of the dental office. Dental anxiety and dental phobia, when stopping someone from receiving dental care, lead to unnecessary oral and general health problems.
Tips To Calm Dental Anxiety
–Finding The Right Dentist And Dental Team. That’s right, it is not just about the dentist. The dental team is just as important in maintaining a calm, soothing atmosphere. A well trained dentist and team can make you feel at ease throughout your dental treatment and actually make it an enjoyable experience. Ask friends or relatives for recommendations.
A good review about a dentist from someone you trust can significantly reduce anxiety. Also, in the internet age read online reviews. These can let you get a better understanding of the dentist and how they treat their patients. Last, make an appointment for a consultation so that you can meet the dentist and staff to see if they make you feel comfortable enough to schedule an exam and cleaning.
–Communication. One of the most important factors in overcoming dental anxiety is a good, open line of communication between dentist and patient. You must always feel comfortable expressing your feelings, fears, and concerns before, during, and after treatment is rendered. You must also feel that the dental team is listening to you and making adjustments as needed.
Communication should never be compromised for any patient but it is even more important for a patient with dental anxiety. This will allow you to feel a sense of comfort that you may have never felt in a dental office before.
–Feeling Of Being In Control. This comes from the confidence to stop or start treatment whenever you need to. You should always feel comfortable controlling your treatment. Making treatment decisions based upon options, how long your appointments should be, and how often you are comfortable coming in for treatment.
Another aspect to being in control is to give yourself the power of knowledge about your dental care. This will give you the ability to understand the steps of treatment, and why it is important for you to follow through. Being in control will allow you to properly express your feelings about how much treatment you can handle.
-Own Your Emotions. For many who have neglected their dental care due to fear there can be a sense of embarrassment. Express your feelings and allow your dentist to understand your feelings so they can be addressed properly. Panic, tears, needing your hand held, etc. are coping mechanisms to fear. It is ok to get emotional at the dental office. You can and should be able to express your emotions without embarrassment.
–Utilize Relaxation Techniques. These can include:
1. Proper Breathing. Focus on breathing regularly and slowly during dental work. When people are feeling anxiety or nervousness we tend to hold our breaths, or breathe in short rapid breaths. This decreases oxygen levels in the body, or hyperventilation, further increasing our feelings of panic.
2. Wear Headphones. For many, the sound of the dental office is a trigger for dental anxiety. Using an ipod or mp3 player with headphones can drown out the noises and relax you.
3. Avoid Caffeine. Caffeine can raise your heart rate and blood pressure, This can trigger panic attacks, make you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or give you the feeling of a fast beating heart. Caffeine before a dental appointment should be avoided.
4. Choose Pre Dental Meals Carefully. Eating high-protein foods have the ability to produce a calming effect.
5. Timing Is Everything. The time of day for your dental appointment can be critical. Try to choose a time for your dental visit when you’ re least likely to be rushed or feel under pressure.
-Repetition. The simple process of repeat appointments, will make you feel more comfortable and at ease. As you learn what to expect, and realize that you are in control of the appointment, you will be able to manage more time in the chair. Remember not to wait too long between appointments or to reschedule unless an emergency arises. Merely coming to the office and not having treatment that day is better than canceling.
–Predictable Pain Control. Every individual is slightly different. What may work for one may not work for another. Let your dentist know if you have a history of difficulty getting numb. Be sure to let your dentist know whether or not you still feel sensitivity, or lack of complete numbness. When you can trust that your comfort will be a priority, you will find that your anxiety rapidly diminishes.
Dental Anxiety Conclusion
Overcoming dental anxiety can be a trying experience. It is important to find the right dentist and dental team so that you can move forward and free yourself from dental anxiety once and for all. Know what you are looking for in a dentist, and be prepared with questions for your meeting. Remember, it is ok to shop around, you will know when you have found the right dentist for you!