If you fear going to the dentist, you are not alone. But don’t let your anxiety stop you from getting the oral care you need.
Suppose you’ve been dealing with a toothache for months, yet the mere thought of going to the dentist makes you anxious. You picture a dentist’s office in your mind and start to shake, feel nauseous, or have shortness of breath. Or maybe the sound of a dental drill makes your heart race. You are not alone! In fact, 36 percent of the population, both children and adults, suffer from dentophobia or dental anxiety.
The fear is so great that it can prevent some people from receiving the urgent dental care they need. However, avoiding the dentist puts you at greater risk for tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss. Poor oral health affects more than your teeth and gums. It’s also been linked to heart disease and diabetes complications. The good news is that with the help of a dentist who listens and understands your concerns, you can overcome your dental anxiety and get vital oral care treatment.
Nine tips to overcome dental anxiety
Your dental anxiety may result from a fear of needles, anesthesia, or a negative encounter with a dentist in the past. For the good of your teeth and your overall well-being, don’t let your anxiety stop you from visiting the dentist! With these nine tips, you can make your dental visit a more pleasant experience.
Consult with your dentist. Communication between your dentist and you is critical to a satisfying dental visit. Tell your dentist about your anxiety before you make an appointment for treatment. Consult with several dentists before you find one who listens to your concerns and is willing to make accommodations so you’ll feel less anxious and stressed during the visit.
Meditation. Perhaps the most anxious moments at the dentist’s office are sitting in the waiting room. Instead of feeling nervous, take that time to relax by practicing meditation. Start by focusing on an object in the room and relaxing every part of your body. You’ll feel much calmer and have a better mindset to undergo the treatment once it begins. You can also try meditating while in the dental chair.
Make an appointment during a less busy time. If the sound of dental drills fills you with anxiety, try making an appointment during a less active hour of the day, such as the early morning, when fewer patients are being treated.
Medications. Your dentist can administer several analgesics to ease your anxiety regarding pain and needles. Options include nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”) or conscious sedation, where you are awake but relaxed. Some dentists may use general anesthesia if you suffer extreme dental anxiety. Before your dental visit, you can also talk to your doctor about anti-anxiety medications.
Guided imagery. As you sit in the dental chair, picture a happy place or time to relieve your anxiety.
Deep breathing. Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose and then exhale slowly through your mouth.
Bring a friend or family member. Even though you can’t talk to them during the session, you’ll be comforted by the fact they are there to support you.
Find a distraction. Listening to music or watching a movie or television program can distract you from the treatment.
Take a break. If the session becomes too much for you, signal your dentist to take a break for a while. This could be a hand gesture or another cue to stop.
Dental anxiety is a real psychological condition. But it shouldn’t prevent you from seeing the dentist and getting the treatment you require to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Work with your dentist to find ways to ease your anxiousness. Once you get through one appointment, your future appointments will be much easier.
We work with your patients to overcome dental anxiety
Schedule an appointment at Espire’s La Mesa location today! We have been serving San Diego County for more than 30 years as a sedation and restorative dental office. Dr. Jeff Gray and Dr. Greg Hurtado at Espire Dental in La Mesa have been providing the best quality dental treatment to the San Diego community for over 30 years. Schedule your consultation online!
La Mesa, CA
8555 Fletcher Pkwy.
La Mesa, CA 91942