If you suffer from dental anxiety, you’re not alone. In fact, approximately 20 percent of Americans experience enough dentist-induced anxiety that they avoid going to the dentist until it’s absolutely necessary. Between five and eight percent of Americans avoid going to the dentist entirely out of fear.
Let’s face it—most people don’t look forward to visiting the dentist. But if serious anxiety prevents you from seeking proper dental care, you could face serious consequences. Besides dental pain and tooth decay, avoiding the dentist can lead to gum disease. This serious infection can affect nearly every other part of your body and can ultimately lead to diabetes, heart disease, and even stroke.
Fortunately, if you’re battling dental anxiety, there’s lots you can do to ease your worries. Here are five ways to get started.
5 Ways to Cope With Dental Anxiety
1. Go to the Dentist With Someone You Trust
If you’re anxious about your next trip to the dentist, having a family member, friend, or someone else you trust come along can be a big help. In many cases, your dentist will allow that person to stay with you throughout the entirety of your procedure. While there’s no reason to fear going to the dentist, having a trusted companion at your side can help ease anxiousness.
2. Find a Calming Distraction
For many, dentist-induced anxiety is worsened by the unfamiliar sounds of dental tools. While some patients aren’t bothered by the sound certain dental tools produce, others find it unbearable. If you’re part of the latter, one of the best ways you can cope with the anxiety is by seeking a distraction. Some dentists have televisions directly in front of the patient’s chair so you can watch an entertaining show or movie during your procedure. You can also use your headphones to listen to music, podcasts or ebooks.
Not sure what to listen to? These resources can help:
3. Use Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques can significantly reduce anxiety before and during your trip to the dentist. From breathing techniques to muscle relaxation, try these next time you’re feeling anxious about your dental appointment.
Did you know that daily meditation may alter your brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress? It’s true! So next time you’re feeling anxious about going to the dentist, meditation is a worthy practice. Just a few minutes of meditation can help ease the anxiety you may be feeling. All you have to do is sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes and focus your attention on reciting a positive mantra (this can be something along the lines of “I am at peace” or “I will be okay”) Try to let any distracting thoughts pass you by.
Practice Deep Breathing
Taking just a few minutes to breathe deeply can help reduce anxious feelings. Sit up straight, close your eyes, and take a deep breath in through your nose and hold it. Let your breath out very slowly through your mouth. This controlled breathing technique will slow your heartbeat, lower your blood pressure, and relax your muscles.
4. Remember That You’re in Control
Studies show that for many people, dentist-induced anxiety stems from feeling like they’re not in control. It’s easy to understand why people feel this way. After all, having a stranger hunch over you and prod inside of your mouth isn’t exactly pleasant. But if fear of loss of control keeps you from going to the dentist, it’s important to remember that you are the one that’s in control.
Feeling in control starts with good communication between you and your dentist. As a healthcare professional, your dentist wants nothing more than to ensure your visit is comfortable and safe. So if you’re worried about any dental procedure, don’t be afraid to talk to your dentist about your anxiety. Once you do, he or she will be aware of your concerns and can discuss a variety of safe and comfortable techniques that can make your visit less stressful.
5. Ask Your Dentist About Sedation Dentistry
Sedation dentistry is a great option for those who battle dental anxiety. Oral sedation is both safe and effective and has become the most common technique in the United States to help patients with dental anxiety. Best of all, the technique is easy and requires no needles. With oral sedation, you can essentially sleep through your dental procedures and wake up feeling relaxed knowing your procedure is over and you receive the dental care you needed. In fact, many patients who undergo intensive, hours-long dental procedures feel as if the procedure was just minutes long.
At Impeccable Smiles, We’d Like to Make You as Comfortable as Possible, Contact Us Today for Dental Care
At Impeccable Smiles, we believe in healthy smiles, happy bodies, healthy lives! Our team is committed to providing the best in dental care in the most comfortable setting for you. If dental anxiety has kept you from getting the dental care you need, we want to help. We offer oral conscious sedation and pride ourselves on curating a warm, personal experience for every patient. Contact us today to learn more.