If the thought of going to the dentist fills you with dread, you are not alone. Fear of the dentist is a common phobia that results in 15% to 20% of Americans neglecting their dental health by not going altogether. Keeping up with your dental appointments, however, is extremely important for the lifelong health of your teeth, gums and mouth. Use these five tips to ease dental anxiety and fear of going to the dentist, before you sabotage your best smile.
You don’t have to keep your dental fears or anxieties to yourself. Expressing your concerns to a dentist or hygienist can ease your mind, as the dentist may alter your treatment plan accordingly. Identify exactly what scares you and say this to your care provider. Many patients suffer from the following common fears:
Communicating your concerns to your dentist can help you work together to find a solution. The dentist may be able to offer services in a way that accommodates and eases your fears. If the dentist does not take your anxieties or fears seriously, go elsewhere for treatment.
If your dental anxiety comes from being out of control during a cleaning or procedure, ask your dentist if you can establish a stop signal. A simple wave of the hand can be enough to tell the dentist to halt and give you a break. This can allow you to catch your breath, express your concerns, rinse your mouth out or feel more comfortable before continuing. A stop signal can be an effective strategy to allow you greater control over your treatment experience, helping you ease related anxiety and fear.
Deep breathing exercises are proven to stop and prevent anxiety attacks. Practice some different options before you go to the dentist so you can easily fall back on them while you’re in the chair. Try lengthening your exhales to relax your nervous system and taking deep breaths from your abdomen rather than your lungs. Take deep, focused breaths during a dental procedure to lower your heart rate and ease nervousness on the spot. If you need a break to practice deep breathing exercises, ask your dentist for this time.
If your anxiety or fear of the dentist is severe or overwhelming, consider sedation dentistry to keep your teeth healthy without the common anxieties that lead to many patients skipping appointments. Sedation dentistry uses medication to make treatments more relaxed and enjoyable for patients. It promotes stress-free dentistry using minimal, moderate or deep sedation (based on the procedure and the needs of the patient). Sedation dentistry can resolve many common fears about going to the dentist, such as fear of pain or discomfort. Ask your dentist about the possibility of sedation dentistry if you believe this could be the answer to your dental phobia.
Not all dental offices are created equal. Some are more empathetic to patients who experience fear and anxiety about going to the dentist than others. The right office can provide a more positive experience for you when you receive dental care. Your dentist can offer special services tailored to patients with anxiety, such as sedation dentistry, as well as gentle patient care while keeping your fears and worries in mind.
If you wish to conquer your fear of the dentist with a dental professional who understands your phobias and offers solutions, contact Dental on Central to schedule an appointment. We offer enjoyable, relaxed and often pain-free dental treatments to help patients overcome their anxiety and dental phobias. Call today to learn more about how we combat fear of the dentist.
COVID-19 (coronavirus) update: Our doors are open for all patients. Please click here to read a message from Dr. Herro about our commitment to your health and safety.