You’ve made the appointment. Marked your calendar. Cleared the time to go. So why do you feel so much dread about visiting the dentist?
One of the biggest problems many people have with going to the dentist is actually going. Whether their dental phobia is caused by the fear of pain or anxiety about judgement, people of all ages still find it difficult to visit a professional dental office regularly.
Removing the stigma can be an emotional journey, but going to the dentist is about making sure that you stay healthy, and that’s the most important reason to visit. By following the tips below, you can get past your dental phobia and get your oral health back on track:
Top 6 Tips to Alleviate Dental Anxiety
1. Take the time to research your dentist.
There are now several ways to look up the dentists and check on their performance with other patients. Whether you use review sites or ask for recommendations from friends and family, take your time with the search. Weighing your options and making an educated decision is key when it comes to your comfort.
2. Create a consistent oral care routine.
Your daily dental routine is the most important preventative measure you can take. It won’t solve every problem, but it will help remove any worry you might have over judgement from a professional. Create daily steps to your morning and evening routines and stick to them. One of the best ways to do this is to write your routine down and tape it up wherever you perform it. Remember to brush and floss twice every day, and consider using an electric toothbrush with a quadrant timer to help focus your brushing. Our Care Collection is made for a well-rounded oral care routine, so pick it up if you need the inspiration.
3. Bring a Friend.
Whether it’s a loved one, close friend, or coworker with some extra time, having someone along for the ride can ease the anxiety caused by a dental visit. Someone will be around for the wait, which can often be excruciating alone, and if there’s any work to be done, they can also be there to give you support.
4. Overcome fear of numbness with facts.
One of the most common fears of going to the dentist has to do with psychological and physical effects of numbness during procedures. Patients have reported fears ranging from choking to not being able to swallow; others simply dislike the concept of losing control of their senses. The procedure of numbing teeth is specifically geared toward halting feeling in nerves that transmit sensations to the brain. This means that motor skills, such as breathing or swallowing won’t be halted - the patient just might not feel the action in the same way that they usually might for an hour or so after numbing. Knowledge is power in this case - so make sure to do specific research on your fears and ask your dentist to explain how the process works.
5. Look into sedation dentistry.
Dental sedation is becoming more commonly available to patients with dental phobias, and you can locate dentists who practice near you with just a quick Google search. Here are a few dental anxiety treatment options that use different types of sedation:
Nitrous Oxide: Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is one of the most frequently used forms of dental sedation. It’s administered through a face mask at your dental office, and while it will not make you unconscious, it is very safe and effective at reducing anxiety.
Enteral Sedation: This is a medical term for sedatives taken by mouth as a pill or liquid. You’ll need to arrange for this type of sedation in advance so you can take it before your appointment (be sure to have someone else drive you!). Like nitrous oxide, you’ll be awake for the procedure, but the sedation will prevent you from getting nervous about it.
IV Sedation: This method involves having sedatives injected directly into your bloodstream. The dentist will place an IV needle into your hand that will remain there throughout the procedure. You will be in a deeper state of sedation, so you’ll likely be unaware of the procedure but not completely unconscious.
While sedation dentistry is a great way to combat fear of the dentist, people with certain medical conditions like heart disease or high blood pressure may need to get clearance from their doctor. Be sure to let your dentist know about any health conditions you have.
6. Remember that your dentist is here to help.
Your dentist and hygienist are only concerned with keeping your teeth, gums and mouth healthy— not with judging you. If they find something wrong, their focus is on fixing it so you can feel better, and helping you prevent it in the future, not making you feel bad about your oral care practices.
Out of all of the ways to overcome your fear of the dentist, the best one may be finding a regular dentist who you can build familiarity with and have them talk you through each procedure. At the end of the day, you and your dentist have the same objective: to keep you healthy and smiling.
We hope this article helped you overcome a bit of your dental anxiety. If you know someone struggling with these issues, share these tips to help them get on the path to better oral health.