How to Manage Dental Anxiety
Dental anxiety is a serious problem for many people with nearly 20 percent of Americans reporting at least moderate anxiety, and over 10 percent reporting severe anxiety. This fear and worry leads to people putting off necessary dental checkups and treatment. In fact, studies show that anxiety and fear of dentists and dental procedures is associated with poor oral health. Unfortunately, this leads to a patient requiring more invasive procedures that can be more painful which then leads to reinforced fear and continued avoidance.
Our Fuquay Varina family dentist office wants every patient to feel safe, secure, and calm at the dentist and be able to confidently schedule appointments and treatments without fear. That’s why we are sharing some tips to help decrease or ease dental anxiety.
Schedule Appointments with Your Family Dentist Early in the Day
Scheduling an early appointment allows you to “get it over with” and prevents you from having to spend all day dreading the appointment. More importantly, your dentist is less likely to have delays first thing in the morning so he or she can spend more time with you, and you’ll spend less time waiting and worrying.
Discuss Your Fears and Worries with Your Dentist
Don’t feel like you have to put on a brave face. Your family dentist is concerned about your well being and wants to do everything possible to help you feel comfortable. Ask questions, express your concerns, and let them know what they can do to help you. If you’ve had bad experiences from a dentist before, mention it and see how a similar experience can be avoided.
It may help you to have your dentist talk you through every step and explain what they’re doing and why, or you can ask to use a hand signal to show that you need a break or you’re feeling discomfort. Just knowing your dentist is on your side is often enough to dispel a lot of fear.
Know that Pain-Free Dentistry Is Possible
If your fear of dentistry comes from “horror stories” of people who have had painful experiences or even your own unpleasant experiences years ago, know that dentistry technology has come a long way. There have been numerous advances that make most procedures either completely pain free or almost completely pain free.
Also, know that your dentist wants you to be comfortable and doesn’t want you to hurt. Feel confident that you can stop at any time and let your dentist know you’re uncomfortable and he or she will do everything possible to help you.
Learn Relaxation Techniques You Can Apply During Your Exam
While you’re waiting in the exam room or during the procedure, you can practice relaxation techniques that will help you stay calm and reduce your anxiety. Focusing on slow, regular breathing will help you avoid tensing up and help you avoid panic.
For more intensive relaxation, try this exercise as you’re reclined in the chair: Starting at your toes, work your way up your body actively relaxing your muscle groups. For example, think take a slow deep breath and as you exhale, think “I feel all the tension in my feet melting away” as you relax those muscles. Then work your way to your ankles, calves, knees, and so forth.
You Don’t Have to Be Self-Conscious Around Your Family Dentist
One of the major causes of anxiety is feeling self-conscious or embarrassed about your teeth or how long it’s been since you’ve been to a dentist. However, most dentists have “seen it all” and you shouldn’t let feelings of self-consciousness or embarrassment stop you from getting the care you need. Your family dentist is only concerned with taking care of your teeth, fixing any issues, and restoring your oral health.
Bring Headphones to Your Dentist Appointment
Sometimes, the scariest part of a dental exam or procedure is the noise, whether it’s the drill or scraping sounds. Bring headphones and listen to music or download a fun or interesting podcast to distract you and drown out unpleasant sounds. Other people find that keeping their hands busy helps, so feel free to bring a stress ball or a similar object.
Get Recommendations from Friends and Loved Ones
If you don’t currently have a family dentist, talk to friends and people you trust. Getting recommendations can help you feel confident that you’re seeing a good dentist with your best interests at heart.
Contact Our Fuquay Varina Family Dentistry Practice
At Hamby Family Dental, we work with every patient to help them feel safe, calm, and comfortable. Our experienced team not only knows how to effectively diagnose and treat any dental health concerns, we’re here to provide personalized care that puts your mind at ease. To schedule an appointment or learn more about our dental services, call us at (919) 552-2431 or fill out our form below!