Did you know that up to 24 percent of the population has dental anxiety or phobia (according to a contributor to Harvard Health
)? The line between normal anxiety and phobia can be blurred, but if you have trouble sleeping before a dental appointment or get increasingly nervous as you wait for your appointment, you may need added assistance to get over these feelings. Below are a few options to help you manage, cope and face your fear of the dentist.
Request a Tour or Introductory Appointment
Modern dental offices are designed to be comfortable and soothing. Dentists understand anxiety and offer distractions while you’re getting treatment. Ask if you can come in and see the office and meet the staff. Find out what options are available for you during your procedure. This also gives you a chance to see if the dental team is empathetic and really fits your needs. HollowBrook Dental offers a variety of distractions including individual screens for movies or TV shows.
Have the Dentist Explain Everything and Ask Questions
Knowledge is power. Your dentist should want you to be comfortable while you’re getting your teeth cleaned or having procedures that offer better dental health. When you understand what is happening and why your dentist is making recommendations, it gives you a sense of control.
Establish a non-verbal cue with your dentist
During treatment, it might be difficult to speak because your mouth may be full of gadgets or numb. Ask for a stop signal or coping sign to let the dentist know you’ve reached a limit or need information. You are not their first patient dealing with dental anxiety, they will have ideas for you!
Talk to Your Dentist About Medications to Reduce Anxiety
. Many people who fear the dentist have low pain thresholds. Your dentist has many options to help you manage your pain and anxiety. Analgesics that prevent pain can be used during many procedures. You may want to have an anti-anxiety agent that puts you into a more relaxed state. You can still respond to speech and touch. General anesthesia is also available for severe procedures. But your dentist doesn’t know that you need help unless you talk to him or her.
See a Mental Health Professional
When your fear is extreme and keeps you from even making an appointment, you may need professional help to get you through your symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy
is very beneficial in overcoming phobias. Identifying what scares you and why can go a long way in reducing the fear.
According to WebMD
, “Modern dentistry is virtually painless.” Think of your dentist as your friend. A friend who wants to help you have a bright and pain-free smile. You don’t have to live with fear through a dental appointment or avoid the dentist at the risk of your oral health. You have options and a great dentist will be understanding, patient and helpful. Take control of your anxiety and start smiling!