Dental anxiety describes the fear, stress, or anxiety a person may experience while in a dental environment. You have probably heard of people that are scared to go to the dentist. If you are one of these people, you may find that your anxiety prevents you from receiving the dental treatment you need for good dental health and wellness. There is no one cause of dental anxiety and it can be triggered by a variety of things such as drills, needles, or the dental setting in general. If you suffer from dental anxiety, know there are ways to manage your condition.
Communicate Your Emotions
One of the biggest mistakes people with dental anxiety make is not sharing how they feel. While your dentist will likely pick up cues of your discomfort, they might not realize how deep your anxiety lies. It is important to be open with your dentist and express how you are feeling. This is especially true when you feel anxious. It can be helpful to share bad experiences you’ve had and pinpoint specific procedures or tools that may act as triggers for your anxiety.
Rely on Distractions
Oftentimes it can be helpful to find a distraction when you are undergoing a dental cleaning or other procedure. Distractions can help take your mind off of what is happening in your mouth by giving you something else to focus on. Distractions can differ for every person but could include listening to music or an audiobook on headphones, squeezing a stress ball, or spinning a fidget spinner. Some dental offices even have televisions you can watch during your appointment.
Bring a Friend or Family Member
Sometimes all you need is a familiar voice to work through your fears. Consider bringing a close friend or family member with you to your appointment. With permission from your dentist office, have your guest talk to you as you are undergoing your dental treatment. Not only will you feel more comfortable and less stressed, but the talking will also serve as a distraction.
Focus on Your Breathing
Dental anxiety can cause a host of physical symptoms such as sweating, racing heartbeat, low blood pressure, and visible distress. During your treatment, it is important to focus on your breathing to help minimize these symptoms and calm your feelings of panic. Close your eyes and focus on taking slow, regular breaths. It can also be helpful to count your breaths during this process.
Schedule Your Appointment Wisely
When you have dental anxiety, an appointment can be stressful enough without having to worry about other life issues. To help lower your anxiety, try to schedule your appointment at a low-stress time. This should be a time when you do not feel rushed or are under pressure to be somewhere else. For some people, this might be in the morning after waking up refreshed, or on a day when they don’t have to be at work or school.
Prepare Ahead of Time
Certain lifestyle habits can increase anxiety. By paying attention to these triggers, you can possibly reduce your dental anxiety for a calmer appointment. Try to get a good night’s sleep before your exam and avoid caffeine and sugar which can exacerbate feelings of anxiety. Instead, eat high-protein foods which can help have a calming effect.
Choose a Dentist Who Understands
Not all dentists are the same and will have different policies and procedures when it comes to your unique needs. It is important to find a dentist that is accommodating and is willing to work with you to minimize your fears. Remember, many people experience some level of dental anxiety and your dentist will likely have some advice to give you that helps curb your stress. If your dentist is not understanding of your condition, then it may be time to switch dentists.
Talk to Your Dentist
Don’t let dental anxiety stop you from receiving the dental treatments and procedures you need for good oral health. Start by speaking to your dentist at Bonham Dental Arts in Largo, FL. At Bonham Dental Arts, we also offer sedation dentistry at a reasonable cost to help patients receive the best treatment possible. To learn more about managing your dental anxiety, contact our office today.