Fear is a powerful thing, and it can be healthy when your fight-or-flight response gets you away from a dangerous situation. Unfortunately, fear can also prevent you from enjoying a healthy set of teeth when your anxiety stops you from going to the dentist.Dental anxiety is surprisingly common, and it is normal to be nervous about having someone peer into your mouth and work on your teeth. The good news is that anxiety can be overcome. As you prepare for your upcoming appointment, use these strategies to feel calm and in control from the moment you enter the dental office.
Try to Identify the Underlying Cause
There are many reasons you might fear visiting the dentist. For many people, dental anxiety begins after a painful procedure. Fortunately, learning about the new options for pain relief that are available today can ease your mind about experiencing discomfort during treatment.
It is also common for a person to fear the loss of control that comes with sitting in the chair, yet your dentist can share ideas for allowing you to be involved in your exam and treatment. Embarrassment and fear of the unknown are a few more underlying causes that you can address with your dentist once your specific fears are identified.
Be Honest With Your Dentist
Let the office staff know that you struggle with dental anxiety when you make your appointment. This way, they can do things such as schedule your appointment during a quieter time or have you meet the dentist in their office to get acquainted before you have to sit in the chair.
During this first meeting, talk to your dentist about how you feel. Remember that they have also been in the chair and know what you are going through. Once your dentist knows about your anxiety, they can do things to ease your fears, such as talking through the exam or allowing you to use a hand signal to ask for a break.
Use Relaxation Techniques
Many of the same relaxation techniques that work for ordinary stress also help with anxiety. For instance, deep breathing helps you to ease tension and send oxygen throughout your body. Take a few deep breaths while you are in the waiting room, or ask your dentist to let you breathe deeply between parts of the exam.
Ask for Distraction Ideas
Distraction is a useful tool when you are in a dental appointment, and an understanding dentist will give you suggestions for ways to stay comfortable during your exam or treatment. For instance, headphones are wonderful tools for masking the sound of a drill if sound is one of the things that triggers your fear.
Bring a Friend Along
A support system is important for overcoming anxiety, and bringing someone along with you gives you a distraction in the waiting room. Although your loved one may not be able to sit in the exam or treatment room, just knowing that someone is out there waiting can give you gentle reassurance that everything will be okay.
Consider Setting Shorter Appointments
When it comes to dealing with dental anxiety, there are people who prefer getting the matter over with all at once and others who would rather take things slowly. If you are someone who finds it hard to sit still in the chair for long periods of time, then ask your dentist whether a treatment can be broken up into several smaller sessions.Facing your dental fears head-on is the only way to preserve a healthy smile, yet you do not have to do the work alone. At Royal Oak Dental, our dentist specializes in making every patient who sits in their chair comfortable, so contact us today to get started loving your smile.