Many people feel anxious when facing a dental appointment. This anxiety can be caused by a variety of reasons, including prior negative dental experiences, a fear of pain, or an aversion to a lack of control while undergoing a dental procedure. Dental anxiety can stress people to the point that they refuse to even see a dental professional and may go years without treatment. Delayed appointments can lead to poor oral health, which may necessitate serious dental care in the future. If you suffer from dental anxiety, there are options available to help make your dental experiences less stressful.
Choosing the Right Dental Office
Some patients may benefit from shopping around for a dentist that understands dental anxiety. You should consult with your friends and family, seeking advice and recommendations for a gentle dentist. Consider speaking directly to the staff at any prospective dental offices, and ask if they have experience interacting with individuals who suffer from dental anxiety. Meeting the staff is a great way to get a sense of how they will interact with you during an appointment.
Additionally, you can inquire about any solutions that are available to ease stress, including options such as sedation dentistry. Other easier solutions may be available, such as entertainment options to keep you distracted. Some offices have televisions mounted on the ceiling, allowing you to watch a movie during your appointment. Other offices have headphones available so that you can listen to music instead of the drill.
Most dental anxiety and stress is caused by a fear of the unknown. Communication between yourself and the dental staff can help keep you informed and relaxed. Ask your dentist to explain each procedure ahead of time. You can even ask him to show you each tool he plans to use during the appointment. If you know what’s coming, you’re less likely to be frightened when the drill starts.
Many people dealing with dental anxiety may respond well to calming exercises. These exercises can include anything from deep breathing to mentally picturing a peaceful scene such as a relaxing beach. You may also wish to reward yourself with a fun treat after your appointment. Having something to look forward to will help you stay distracted and keep your mind off the appointment. This can include something as easy as buying a nice lunch out or purchasing a small gift for yourself.
Take an Advocate
Some anxious dental patients feel stressed by a lack of control during a dental procedure. They worry about the inability to alert the dental staff when a problem occurs. If this describes you, consider bringing a close friend or family member to communicate with the dental staff. You can develop a series of hand signals to alert your advocate when you are feeling uncomfortable. Having a person you know and trust with you can help you feel more confident. Alternatively, you can also consult the office staff beforehand to discuss possible ways to communicate. If you know you can easily alert the staff when you are feeling uncomfortable, you will feel more at ease.