6 Ways to Deal with Dental Anxiety

woman getting dental exam

How to Deal with Dental Anxiety

Even though going to the dentist is generally seen as a normal part of life, many people are prone to feeling some degree of anxiety when it’s their time to go. Dental care is an essential part of maintaining overall health, and if someone feels anxious about a procedure, it can deter them from going in general. This can, of course, lead to oral health problems, which only means more dental treatment.

People are anxious about visiting the dentist for a variety of reasons. They could have had a bad experience in the past, they may need an extensive procedure and are scared of feeling pain, or they could even feel anxiety because going to the dentist disrupts their day. No matter the reason, however, feeling dental-related anxiety doesn’t have to be a part of a patient’s life if they don’t want it to be.

Below are six ways that people can start to manage their dental anxiety. We hope that the tips we’re going to outline will help someone feel better about going to the dentist.

Empower Yourself to Ask for What You Need

When you have anxiety, it’s important to let people know how they can help you overcome it. But, the first step in doing that is to empower yourself to ask for exactly what you need from your dental team as they are working on you. It’s easy to sit in the dentist’s chair and stay quiet, but that won’t help you or your dental team have a positive experience.

We recommend that you practice – either with yourself, a friend, or a licensed professional – giving instructions on the services and procedures you would like to add or avoid, if possible, and outlining any signals you want to give to your dental when you start feeling overwhelmed. This may not come naturally to you at first, but with practice, it will become easier for you.

Schedule Low-Stress Appointments

Going to the dentist is naturally going to break up a daily routine, but to many, this feels like an inconvenience. This disruption of a routine can make people feel anxious, especially if they rely on their routine to maintain their mental health.

One way to circumvent this feeling is to make dentist appointments at low-stress times. So, if you feel anxious when trying to make an afternoon appointment, try scheduling one for the early morning. If weekdays don’t work, consider finding a dentist that has weekend hours. There are plenty of solutions that can work for you.

Eat and Drink the Right Foods Before Your Appointment

Even though there are foods that are more ideal for oral health, we don’t expect everyone to stick to those guidelines at all times. But, if you do suffer from dental-induced anxiety, there are foods and drinks you should avoid consuming before your appointment, like those that are high in sugar and caffeine. The added boost of energy may manifest itself into heightened anxiety, which will only make you feel worse during your appointment.

Instead, stick with healthy fruits and veggies and foods that are high in protein. Those foods can help keep you calm during the procedure while also given you a ton of other positive benefits.

Share Your Fears

One of the key things to keep in mind as you’re handling your anxieties is to be open and honest about them with your dental team. After all, they won’t know what you’re feeling until you tell them. Remember, your dental team is always there to help you be the healthiest version of you possible.

So, when calling to set up your appointment, share your concerns then. Or, if talking on the phone or in-person is difficult, send an email to your team that outlines everything they need to know about your anxieties. Either way, it’s important that you share your experience with your dental office so they can adjust their care plans accordingly.

Consider Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry is a procedure that focuses on relaxing, light sedation methods to help alleviate dental anxiety. With this solution, people can choose a comfortable, safe solution that can effectively manage their fears, while their dentists can focus on providing excellent care.

Find a Dentist You Can Trust

In order to overcome your dental anxieties, it’s imperative to find the best dental team for your needs. To do that, write out what you’ll need from your dentist, locate offices in your area that can accommodate the items on your list, and look up reviews on them. Or, even better, find someone you know and trust and get their recommendations.

The more confident you are in your dental team, the more at ease you’ll feel, which will only lead to better dental care.

About the author

A practicing dentist since 1982, Dr. Gary Imm, provides advanced cosmetic dentistry, including smile makeovers, sedation, implant and TMJ services. He is committed to progressive, extraordinary care for his guests. All Smiles Dental Care trains at least 300 hours each year at such prestigious centers as the Las Vegas Institute of Advanced Dentistry. (LVI)
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