Dental anxiety or dental phobia is real. Statistics vary, but one study indicates that at least 9% of the population not only fear going to the dentist, but they put off dealing with dental issues, even serious ones, because of their fears. Some people with dental anxiety report sleeplessness the night before an appointment and jittery behavior, even nausea.
Don’t let your discomfort or anxiety stop you from coming to us. Poor dental care can lead to a whole host of other problems. Instead, let’s work together to get a handle on the nature of your fears.
Why do people fear going to the dentist?
· Fear of pain
· Feelings of lack of control
· Discomfort of a person or persons “invading your space”
· Fear that anesthesia will be insufficient
· Nervousness about barriers to communication
· Previous negative experiences at the dentist
· General nervousness or anxiety or panic disorders
What can our patients do to alleviate dental anxiety?
· Tour first, drill second. If you have not been to the dentist in a while, come just for a consultation. We’ll go over what will happen, show you the equipment, and take all of the surprise element out of your future appointment. Sometimes, knowing exactly what will transpire can lessen the anxiety.
· Communicate! Please share your nervousness with everybody in our office and don’t be embarrassed. Try to tell us if you can what you are most afraid of. Often just talking about it and knowing that we hear you will really tamp down your anxiety.
· Come up with a cue for when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Prior to even letting us look inside your open mouth, work out with the dentist and the staff a signal that you are feeling nervousness or worse, pain, and we will stop the procedure immediately. The most common signal is just holding up your palm: the traditional “stop” signal.
· Devise a plan that you can handle. If you feel that you can only tolerate 30 minutes in the dentist’s chair, but your upcoming procedure takes an hour, perhaps there is a way to divide the procedure into smaller chunks of time.
· Breathe. When you’re nervous, you tend to hold your breath, which just makes your pain receptors more sensitive. Train yourself to take long, slow breaths, maybe each one lasting 10 seconds (you can count slowly to ten).
· If the sounds of the drill or other dental noises stimulate your anxiety, ask about bringing in music with headphones. You can even listen to the dialogue from a downloaded funny movie. Whatever it takes to distract and calm works for us.
· Think very carefully about what time of day works best for you when scheduling any visits to the dentist. Are you a morning person or are you so frazzled in the morning that a dental procedure would send you over the edge? Do you take anti-anxiety medicine that needs time to kick in? Choose an appointment time with your mental well-being in mind.