Help! I Have Dental Anxiety But I Need to See a Dentist
What to do when dental anxiety is an obstacle.
When a toothache strikes or your teeth need a professional cleaning, scheduling a dental appointment isn’t always as easy as it sounds. If you have dental anxiety, you might do whatever you can to avoid having to see a dentist. Unfortunately, this often results in a painful or damaged tooth that now needs urgent care.
If you find yourself needing to see a dentist but you already feel dental anxiety rearing its ugly head, here is some guidance that may help you.
Dental anxiety is very common and often a very natural response.
First off, there’s nothing abnormal or strange about having dental anxiety. There’s no reason to feel bad about your anxiety or feel frustrated with yourself for having it. In fact, as much as 20% of the adult population has moderate to severe dental anxiety.
Dental anxiety stems from a perceived notion or anticipation that you may experience either physical or emotional pain. From an instinctual perspective, our mouths are a very sensitive area on our bodies, and one that’s also quite personal. While our bodies are visible during our daily lives, rarely would someone, except ourselves, take a peek inside our mouths. These factors can lead to very natural emotional responses of vulnerability and unease.
By remembering that your dental anxiety isn’t necessarily an enemy, it can make overcoming your anxiety a much more rewarding and successful process.
Coping with dental anxiety comes down to understanding your fear and finding what works to control it.
Pinpointing exactly what you fear or worry about will help you to figure out how to begin taking control over it. Some common fears or worries include:
- Pain or discomfort.
- Loss of control.
- Financial burden.
- Social anxiety.
Fearing pain, discomfort, or emotional embarrassment are extremely common reasons for dental anxiety. Worrying about discomfort and anticipated pain are obvious ones, but embarrassment is fairly unique to dental anxiety. In many cases, this can be the most difficult one to overcome as dental care is necessary to restore your oral health and feel more confident.
Here are a few important things to remember:
- Your dentist will never judge you or the state of your oral health.
- Modern dentistry allows for a pain-free experience.
- You always have control and the power to say “stop.”
- Your dental care team genuinely wants you to have a healthy smile.
- Your dentist will do their best to make appointments affordable.
Helpful techniques for combatting dental anxiety before and during your appointments.
1. Book your appointment when the office is less busy.
When booking an appointment, ask the staff member what day of the week and time of day is generally less busy. By coming in for your appointment at a quieter time when there are fewer patients around, you’ll usually feel more comfortable and less overwhelmed.
2. Bring along some earbuds so you can listen to music.
Listening to music, an audiobook, or a guided meditation can help distract you as well as calm you down. As long as you are able to hear your dentist ask you questions, they won’t mind you using this technique to make you feel more comfortable.
3. Let your dentist and the team know you have anxiety.
It can be tough to speak openly about your anxiety, but even a simple, “I have dental anxiety.” can really help your dentist know to take things slow, communicate, and be aware of any signs of discomfort on your part.
If you’re comfortable discussing your anxiety, feel free to go into detail about what things may make you feel more comfortable. For example, if you would prefer your dentist not go into detail about a procedure, let them know.
4. Request nitrous oxide for treatment appointments.
Nitrous oxide is a form of sedation that’s very mild, feels pleasant, and wears off quickly after the gas is turned off. It’s perfect for patients with dental anxiety who need help relaxing and feeling more comfortable during longer appointments.
5. Practice breathing exercises and recite internal affirmations.
Hop on Google or YouTube and look up breathing exercises for anxiety. Find a few techniques you like and practice them. Before and during your appointment, be mindful of your breath and practice slow, steady, deep breathing. You can also mentally recite a few positive affirmations.
6. Ask for a cost estimate before any treatment begins.
If finances are a stressor for you, be sure to ask your dentist for a cost estimate when treatment is necessary. This will allow you to know the cost of the procedure, how much insurance will cover, and what you will pay out of pocket.
Choosing the right dentist is one of the most important things you can do for your dental anxiety.
In addition to learning how to cope with your own anxiety, the second-best thing you can do to beat your fear is choose the right dentist. With a gentle, experienced dentist by your side, who is knowledgeable in dental anxiety, you can work together to quell your worries. Taking the time to investigate different practices and see how they make you feel is a great technique for finding that perfect place to make your dental home.
You want to look specifically for a dental practice and dentist who is eager to listen to you, understanding of your anxiety, and expresses genuine interest in making you feel as comfortable as possible.
For maximum comfort, it’s also a great idea to look for a practice that is up-to-date with the latest in dental technology. Things like digital X-rays, digital imaging, laser dentistry, sedation dentistry, and CEREC same day crowns increase your comfort and make visits more efficient.
Moderate dental anxiety can be worked with, but severe fear may need professional help.
Last but not least, if your dental anxiety is really putting a strain on your oral health and you’re struggling to make progress, seeking professional help can be a lifesaver. Having the guidance of someone trained in combatting anxiety can yield immediate results and, with time, help you learn how to control your worries or fears.
Farless Dental Group can help you overcome your dental anxiety and unlock optimal oral health.
If you’re searching for a dental practice in Greensboro, NC, that will be understanding of your dental anxiety and support you through your journey, Farless Dental Group is the place. You can schedule an appointment and meet our team by calling our office or using this online form.