6 Tips to Cope With Dental Anxiety
Dental anxiety is at the top of the list of many people’s fears. Thinking about a tooth extraction or a root canal can induce fear, often resulting in significant oral health problems.
If you have a fear of the dentist, know that there are things you can try that can help.
What Is Dental Anxiety?
Dental anxiety is a term that describes fear, stress, or anxiety associated with visiting the dentist or any other kind of dental fear or dental phobia.
Anything from needles, drills, and dental procedures can strike fear that leaves anyone petrified to go to the dentist and receive dental treatment. Avoiding the dentist and the procedure altogether can take a toll on anyone’s oral health.
According to a study, 50-80 percent of adults in the U.S. have dental anxiety. Over 20 percent of this group do not visit the dentist regularly, while 9-15 percent avoid dental care at all costs.
How Does Dental Anxiety Affect Your Oral Health?
If you let your dental anxiety stop you from going to your dentist, you’re only worsening any dental condition you might have. This might result in a greater need for immediate care and a more complicated procedure.
Regular visits, check-ups, and cleaning can help prevent dental problems or aid the dentist in spotting them early. Your dentist can check any mouth cancer symptoms during check-ups – a condition typical for those who smoke and drink regularly. For instance, you notice a mouth ulcer not getting away after two weeks, have it checked by your dentist soon.
Common Causes of Dental Anxiety
Here are some of the common reasons why people have dental anxiety:
- Past traumatic experience with a dentist
- Trust issues
- Personal issues such as being self-conscious
- Fear of needles
- Fear of drilling noises
- Mental health struggles, such as stress, anxiety, or depression
- Any previous trauma to the head, face, or neck
Knowing the reason that stops you from visiting your dentist is critical in addressing the problem. Acknowledging and understanding your fear is the first step in overcoming your phobia.
6 Tips to Cope with Dental Anxiety
Ready to dig in? Here are six tips for coping with dental anxiety.
Look for the Right Dentist
Finding the right dentist first can make all the difference. The right one can make you comfortable about any treatment or procedure you undergo. Try to ask for recommendations from your family, friends, office mates, or even neighbors.
When looking for a dentist, find someone who has the following:
- Friendly staff
- Comfortable waiting room
- Commendable reviews from clients
- Can accommodate your queries
- Service options
- Good credentials
- High-tech equipment and personalized treatments
After you find one who has these qualities, it’s vital to build a relationship with your dentist. You might be nervous the first time you meet, but you become more familiar with each other once you visit regularly.
Additionally, look for someone who knows how to deal with anxious patients – one with sympathy and understanding. They know how to manage the process as they have encountered the same cases several times before.
Bring a Companion
Bringing a companion is another way to cope with your dental anxiety. Ask someone to accompany you during your dental appointment. Having someone to support you nearby can help you loosen up, whether they only stay out in the waiting area or join you in the room.
Use Relaxation Techniques and Medications
Another effective tip is mental conditioning. Getting the right mindset before your appointment can help you prepare for that day. You can do stretching, meditation, yoga, and deep-controlled breathing.
Say you suffer from severe anxiety, contact your dentist ahead and ask if they offer any sedation and what technique is appropriate for you to help you ease your stress.
Some dentists use laughing gas or nitrous oxide and other medications to lower the anxiety levels to a minimum. It’s best to discuss these during the consultation period so you receive the proper medications for your unique needs. Don’t worry because these medications are safe and effective for stress and anxiety management.
Distractions Are Good
Distraction is considered an excellent coping mechanism, especially for anxiety. Try to use any distraction, such as a stress ball or headphones. If the clinic has a TV, you can also watch any show to take your mind off the procedure.
Most dentists recommend the use of headphones while undergoing treatment. So, the next time you visit your dentist, bring your headphones, play your favorite songs and relax.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly
It may be ironic but visiting your dentist regularly means letting your dentist check your oral health more often. This results in catching problems early.
Regular visits are highly recommended even though you have crippling dental anxiety. Additionally, the more you face your fear, the more it shrinks, and you become stronger.
You will reap the benefits of having healthier teeth and gums and learning improved oral hygiene techniques. Frequent check-ups let you ask for help, advice, and tips from your dentist to prevent future dental problems.
Dental anxiety is quite common. However, this doesn’t mean that your dentist already knows you’re suffering from it. That’s why it’s very critical to speak up and let your dentist know of your anxiety.
Try not to be so brutal to yourself by keeping your fears bottled up. First, accept that you have anxiety and understand that it’s only natural to get this in response to stress. Then, you realize it’s much easier to develop coping strategies after acceptance.
Additionally, your dentist can offer personalized attention to give you a comfortable and enjoyable experience.
Bonus Tip: Support Groups Can Also Help
One of the most valuable tips for those suffering from dental anxiety is seeking help from support groups. It doesn’t matter if it’s online or face-to-face. A support group is set up to help stressed and anxious people that are coping with dental anxiety. They can inform and educate people along the way and give answers to questions to help people become more confident.
If you’re someone with dental anxiety, reach out to us today. Don’t hesitate to let us know how we can help you get the dental care you need in the comfortable setting you deserve.