Does the Idea of a Dental Visit Send Your Heart Racing?
For some, a trip to the dentist is like any appointment or errand–no big deal. But for many people, the thought of sitting in a dentist’s chair is enough to trigger full-on panic.
Dental anxiety is the real deal. Dentophobia–or extreme fear of going to the dentist–is a common phobia among people of all ages. Over 75% of American adults admit to experiencing some kind of anxiety about visiting the dentist, with 9-20% avoiding the dentist altogether. Doing so can eventually result in dental pain, infection, lost teeth, gum disease, and more.
Got dental distress? Don’t let it paralyze you into poor oral health. Take control with these tips:
First, pinpoint your fear.
Start by being okay with admitting you’re not okay going to the dentist. You’re not alone! Ranking high on the list for many? A past traumatic experience at a dentist. For some, it’s a fear of someone poking around their mouth with needles or other sharp instruments. Perhaps you hate the idea of feeling helpless lying prone in a chair, unable to talk or respond. Or you’re afraid that a dental procedure will cause more pain than the initial discomfort you’re looking to address. Whatever the reason, it’s important to know that a good dentist is highly skilled in helping his or her patients overcome these fears. Your dentist may do things like give you more breaks, find a different way to manage pain, see you first thing in the morning, or give you hand signals to use during treatment to help ease your anxiety. In extreme cases, we can prescribe an oral sedative to be taken prior to your appointment to help ease anxiety.
Distract while in the chair.
While dental practices have grown more patient-friendly over the years, the clinical setting still can be anxiety-inducing for some people. Many practices offer movies for patients shown on portable or ceiling-mounted TV screens to help distract eyes from intimidating-looking machines. Likewise, the sound of high-pitched drills and loud suction tubes can unnerve, so consider bringing some earplugs or noise-canceling headphones or using your earbuds to listen to music. If external props aren’t your thing, try meditation, visualization techniques, or controlled breathing to help you relax.
Advocate for yourself.
Remember, while you may feel helpless in a dental chair, you are in control! And that starts with finding the right dentist. Do your research and ask friends and family for recommendations. Read reviews, focusing on how the practice handles dental stress. Many dental practices specialize in treating fearful patients, so look for one who is tuned into anxiety issues and will work with you. Before you start any checkups or procedures, be sure to tell your dentist what you’re anxious about. You can bet there is no fear he or she hasn’t heard before, so lay it all out there! Your dentist is a trained professional who is running a business. It’s their job to help you feel as comfortable as possible during a visit. A positive relationship with your dentist is key to overcoming your fears, so listen to your gut and make sure you feel a good connection. At CNS Dental, we treat dental anxiety with compassion and individualized care.