Did you know that up to 80% of adults have some level of dental anxiety? If going to the dentist stresses you out, you’re not alone.
You can’t let your dental anxiety get in the way of your oral health, so you have to face your fears. We’re here to help. Read on for a few tips that may help you alleviate your dental anxiety.
Learn About Dental Procedures
If the idea of getting dental work done sends a shiver down your spine, it might help if you learn more about dental procedures before you come face-to-face with them.
Popular movies and television shows make dental procedures look scary. Wisdom tooth removals, root canals, and even routine fillings might look painful and stressful if you’ve never experienced them before.
In reality, modern dental procedures are fairly tolerable for most people. With numbing injections and sedation dentistry, your next procedure will be a breeze.
Research procedures before you have them and you’ll find that you feel far less anxious. Remember: only use verified resources. Bad information might make you even more stressed out!
Find the Right Local Dentist
The right dentist can be the difference between a future of dental anxiety and a future of relaxation in the dentist’s office. Make sure that you choose an Aurora dentist that makes you feel comfortable.
A good dentist should be able to ease your worries. They understand dental anxiety and they aim to alleviate it to the best of their ability.
Don’t be afraid to call a variety of dentist’s offices until you find one that you’re comfortable with.
Talk to Your Dentist
Once you find a dentist, talk to them about your anxiety. Again, dentists are used to patients with dental anxiety. Some dentists may have dealt with dental anxiety themselves, so they’ll understand if you have some concerns.
During your first appointment, bring up your anxiety. It’s better for both you and the dentist if they know ahead of time so they can give you the best possible care. They may be able to offer you helpful options.
Some dentists offer sedation dentistry to help alleviate anxiety during dental procedures. Even if you’re only getting a cleaning, nitrous oxide will take the edge off of your anxiety.
You can also ask plenty of questions. Sometimes having your dentist walk you through what they’re doing is enough to alleviate your anxiety. You can also tell them to stop and take a break if you’re getting overwhelmed or uncomfortable.
You should also take questions about your dental care which may make you feel better about your dental health (and it will help you avoid more intense future procedures).
Learn Coping Mechanisms
One of the best things that you can do for any type of anxiety is to learn helpful coping mechanisms. Dental anxiety is no exception.
You can use plenty of coping strategies in public without anyone noticing. Try deep breathing exercises and grounding exercises if you’re feeling anxious while you’re awaiting your appointment.
You may feel better if you have a sensory object on hand, like Silly Putty or bubble wrap. You can keep your hands occupied and it may help ease some of your anxiety. Chewing gum is also helpful for this purpose.
Talk to a Mental Health Professional
If your anxiety has gotten overwhelming to the point that you’re neglecting your dental health because you’re so afraid of visiting the dentist, talk to a mental health professional about it. They’ll be able to create a treatment plan that can help you work through your anxiety so it doesn’t stand between you and your appointments.
Many therapists use CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) to help their patients work through their anxiety. Others use exposure therapy or even EMDR if the patient has a legitimate phobia of the dentist’s office.
If your anxiety is only situational, a doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety medication for you to use during your appointments.
Bring a Friend to the Appointment
There’s nothing wrong with bringing a friend or family member with you when you have to go to the dentist. They may not be able to come into the office with you (though you can always ask the dentist and explain that you’d like the company because of your anxiety).
Even having them waiting for you in the waiting room may calm you down. You can chat before your appointment so you can keep your mind off of it. They’ll also be there to calm you down after the appointment (and drive you home if you chose sedation dentistry).
It might seem counterproductive, but arriving at your appointment early may actually help reduce your anxiety. Yes, you have more time to sit and wait for your appointment, but that also means that you have more time to calm yourself down.
When you rush, you’re adding another layer of stress to your day. This will make you more anxious in the long run.
Never Skip Check-ups
If you want to get over your dental anxiety, you have to acclimate yourself to the dentist. If you skip your routine appointments, not only are you more likely to need more intense dental treatment in the future, but you’re also not getting enough exposure to the dentist.
The more often you do something that scares you, the easier it gets.
You Can Beat Your Dental Anxiety
Dental anxiety is tough, but if you take the right steps, you’ll be able to visit your dentist without fear in no time. Talk to your dentist about your anxiety and ask for their advice. Remember: they want you to have great dental health, and alleviating your anxiety will help with that.
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