8 Ways to Manage Your Dental Anxiety
Whether it is time for a regular appointment or there is noticeable pain in a tooth, many people put off going to the dentist due to dental anxiety. This is a stress response that is related directly to what a person fears may happen while they are at the dentist. Some merely fear the pain of the procedure. Others worry specifically about dental tools, especially the drill. Others just don’t do well with being in the chair and relinquishing control.
What Does it Feel Like to Have Dental Anxiety?
There are many things that might happen that can be symptomatic of dental anxiety, either during or leading up to a dental appointment. The person may be visibly distressed. They may express anger and even become aggressive, or start crying. They may have trouble sleeping as their appointment draws closer or have panic attacks, including heart palpitations or a racing heartbeat. At Dental Brothers, this certainly not how we want you to feel about going to the dentist, but we do realize that it is the reality for many people. We are here to help you through it and to provide the dental care you need. Here are some strategies that have helped many people get through their dental anxiety and have successful appointments.
Communicate Your Fears to Your Dentist
Despite your fears, your dentist is actually on your side and wants you to have a positive experience during your appointment. One way to ease any anxiety is to get on the same page about what is worrying you. Maybe the idea of the pain alone is what worries you, or perhaps you’re worried about being criticized for going too long without a check-up, or your less than perfect dental hygiene. Dentists see mouths in many different conditions, and it is highly unlikely that you will shock them. You may also be concerned about the cost, but waiting longer can actually increase the cost. Your dentist can discuss what is covered by your insurance, and how to make payments for whatever is not covered.
Bring Your Own Distraction
Many people get through their dental anxiety by making a point not to think about it. This means bringing something along to distract them. Earbuds are common in dental offices with a variety of things going through them. Some listen to calming music. Others prefer nature sounds or their favorite podcast in the background. If earbuds aren’t sufficient, consider bringing a regular “bud.” Ask if your dentist will allow you to have a friend or relative in the room that can distract you or talk about things that are pleasing to you during your procedure.
Deep breathing through your diaphragm can do a lot when it comes to preparing for a dental appointment or keeping you calm during an appointment. Just the act of breathing deeply can calm your nerves and even lower your blood pressure and make you more receptive to having a positive experience and reduce anxiety about pain.
Visualizing a Positive Experience
If you have had a negative experience at the dentist before, or if you have seen one too many movies about a scary dentist it can be easy to develop dental anxiety when your appointment is drawing near. For most, however, negative experiences are the exception rather than the rule. Try turning things around in your mind and imagining everything going right. Bring with you the expectation that your dentist is on your side and it will be more likely that your positive expectations will reflect your reality.
Aromatherapy or Herbal Supplements
Many scents or supplements such as lavender or chamomile can have a calming effect when taken before your appointment. For some, this may be enough to get through an appointment. For others, it may help them have an open conversation with their dentist about their options.
Talk Through Your Fears With a Therapist
Speaking to a therapist about your dental anxiety can help you get a handle on what parts of your fears are rational and what are irrational. They can help you identify which concerns may be valid, so you can communicate these with your dentist.
Talk to Your Doctor About Anxiety Medication
If your anxiety is strong enough that it inhibits your sleep, or makes it hard to function in your daily life, you may need some prescription medication. Talk to your doctor about either short-term or long-term options for your anxiety.
Consider Dental Sedation
If you get to the dentist’s chair and still have crippling dental anxiety, there are several options that can still help you have a positive experience. Many people are calmed enough with the use of traditional relaxants, like nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and Novocaine to dull the pain. Others need a stronger form of dental sedation to help them get through. At Dental Brothers we listen and want to help you have a successful appointment.
If you have dental pain, or just need a checkup, give us a call. Let us know about your fears and worries. We will do what we can to assure you have a positive experience. To learn more about dental dental sedation or to schedule an appointment contact us today.