Overcoming Anxiety at the Dentist’s Office
It’s perfectly natural to have some fear before going to your dentist, but how can you overcome your anxiety? If you are a person who experiences nervousness related to dental visits, don’t worry; there are some ways to overcome your anxiety. Dental fear is estimated to affect about 36% of the population, with 12% suffering from extreme dental phobia. Dental anxiety can lead to serious repercussions for your dental health. It can be a significant barrier to dental attendance, resulting in dental avoidance. This can lead to poor oral health and eventually require specialized dental care when issues are allowed to progress.
At your Fuquay-Varina dentist, Hamby Family Dental, we are professionals who are experienced in working with patients who have dental anxiety. Our training has included ways to address dental fear. In this article, we wanted to outline some tips for you in easing the anxiety that may accompany your visits to the dentist.
Reasons Why You Feel Anxious
Dental anxiety can be caused by a lot of different reasons. Sometimes it is the memory of a bad experience in the past, maybe from childhood. It can even be the smells and sounds of the dental office that stimulate an anxious feeling. Here are some of the most common reasons for dental anxiety.
Fear of pain
The fear of pain usually comes from a past dental experience that was unpleasant or painful. It can also stem from an avoidance of pain in general. Sometimes, a person is afraid if they don’t know how much pain will be involved because they haven’t had the procedure done before. Thankfully, there have been many advances in dentistry over the years so that most of today’s dental procedures are considerably less painful and even pain-free. Let your dentist know your concern so he/she can address your fear of pain.
Fear of injections
Many people are terrified of needles when inserted into their mouths. Sometimes, patients are afraid that the anesthesia hasn’t taken effect or that the dose wasn’t large enough to eliminate the pain before the dental procedure begins. Your dentist may be able to use another method like nitrous oxide to help you relax first. Sedation dentistry is also a popular option for patients who can’t get past an immoveable fear.
Fear of anesthetic side effects
Some people fear the potential side effects of anesthesia like dizziness, feeling faint, or nausea. Others don’t like the numbness associated with local anesthetics. Your dentist can go over the options available for masking pain so you can decide which one is best for you.
Feelings of helplessness or loss of control
Many patients feel a sense of helplessness and loss of control in the dentist’s chair. Not being able to talk, being confined, disliking the implements in your mouth can all add up to somewhat of a claustrophobic sensation due to loss of control. If this is your situation, let the dental staff know at the beginning of the appointment. You can always raise your hand during the procedure to take a break.
Self-conscious about your oral health
For people who have gone years without cleaning or haven’t been diligent in taking care of their teeth, there may be an embarrassment to having the dentist examine or correct. Rest assured that dentists have seen many severe cases and won’t be deterred or judgmental about your situation.
Easing Anxiety When Seeing the Dentist
There are many ways to help manage dental anxiety or even phobia. First, it’s important to communicate with your dentist when you experience anxiety and fear. This allows the dental staff to understand, adapt, and offer ways to overcome your anxiety. Here are some common tips for staying calm when visiting the dentist:
Focus on breathing regularly and slowly
Instead of holding your breath during the procedure, be aware of taking slow and regular breaths. This is a technique used in meditating that lowers stress levels. By focusing on your breathing you are better able to take your mind off of focusing on the procedure.
Listen to music
Take some music and earphones to your appointment. Listening to music will help to drown out any noises that may cause you anxiety and music is good for your mood in general.
Use hand signals to communicate
Agree on hand signals to communicate with the dentist during the procedure. This gives you more of a sense of control and a way to indicate when you are uncomfortable or need a break.
Other meditative techniques and therapies
Other calming techniques taken from meditation practices include guided imagery, muscle relaxation, and hypnosis. If you suffer from an extreme phobia of the dentist, you may consider going to a psychologist who can apply cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). CBT can be effective for anxiety disorders.
Visiting our Fuquay-Varina dentist and dental professionals at Hamby Family Dental can help you overcome dental anxiety. Use the form below or call (919) 552-2431 to request your appointment.