Are you one of the many Americans who are afraid of the dentist? Does the thought of someone poking around in your mouth with sharp tools leave you wanting to put off going your annual appointments? You’re not even close to alone in this issue. According to the Oral Health Foundation, dental anxiety is one of the most common fears in the world. But it doesn’t have to be the reason you don’t make your appointments.
Many people have a fear of the dentist from the time that they’re young children. We’re told that if we don’t brush, or eat too many sweets, we’ll have to… go to the dentist. That thought, while it may not be enough to make every kid want to brush twice daily, can create a fearful cloud over dentistry, which is unnecessary. If you’re afraid of the dentist, here are some things you should do in order to quell your anxiety.
Talk about it with your dental team
The next time you have an check in scheduled that has got you stressing out, pick up the phone. Speak to your dental team about any anxiety you may be experiencing. Ask them what you should expect at your next appointment. Tell your dentist what’s scaring you the most. He or she should be able to not only explain the process and tools they will use, as well as calm your fears about pain.
Try some relaxation and breathing techniques
The next time you feel anxiety over seeing the dentist, try some relaxation or breathing techniques. Controlled breathing exercises can often help calm your body and shift your focus away from your nearing appointment. You can also ask to listen to some music for your next appointment. You should be able to listen to music in headphones while your dentist is working on your teeth.
Believe in modern advances
With the advancement of new dental and products, the dentist and his tools don’t have to be scary. There are now tools and methods that can help address your anxiety instead of making them worse.
If you have major dental fears
If the above steps don't help, consider asking to be sedated during your visit. You may be able to be choose between the type of sedation you use. Oral sedation is a tablet taken about an hour before your visit, while intravenous is an injection you take at the time of your visit. For both of these options, you won’t be out of consciousness, but you will feel relaxed.
You can also try finding a local support network. As mentioned before, dental anxiety is quite common, and there are many support groups available. There are even online sites with forums dedicated to dental anxiety, and dentist recommendations.