If you dread visiting the dentist, you aren’t alone. Many people find the thought of settling into a dentist’s chair deeply unsettling. However, foregoing dental care can have serious consequences for both your oral and your overall health. How can you make your next trip to the dentist a more pleasant experience? Start by exploring the common causes of dental anxiety. Once you identify what triggers your unease, you can use these dental anxiety tips to fight your fear.
Dental Anxiety Tips
Knowing that dental professionals are friendly, helpful, and concerned with their patients’ comfort doesn’t necessarily erase the fact that their offices can be nerve-wracking places filled with unsettling sights, sounds, and sensations. There’s also the fact that having someone working in your mouth can feel invasive and threatening. It can fuel a sense of powerlessness, especially since it inhibits your ability to speak. Some people expect dental care to hurt, and that expectation can lead to tension. Finally, bad experiences in the past can set the stage for future episodes of dental anxiety.
Once you understand why you’re nervous, you can take steps to counteract your fears. In fact, there are several dental anxiety tips that you can use to stay calm and relaxed while visiting the dentist:
Time It Right
If you’re already anxious, being rushed, stressed, or stuck in a crowded office is liable to make the situation worse. Try to schedule your appointment for a time that’s less harried. Early mornings in the middle of the week are often a good time.
Good communication is empowering. Let the dentist and office staff know about your anxiety, and alert the hygienist and dentist if you have a strong gag reflex, a fear of choking, or any other specific concerns. Ask questions so that you know what to expect before the exam begins. You might even find it helpful if the dentist explains what they are doing and what sensations you might experience while they work. If so, let them know. Good communication will increase your comfort level and foster your sense of control.
Use Your Hands
If loss of control is an issue for you, plan to use your hands to retain your sense of control of the situation. Before any work begins, establish a hand signal that lets your dentist know if you need them to stop. This can soothe fears of being trapped or speechless because you’ll always be able to make yourself heard through a hand signal.
Be Proactive About Pain
If you’re worried that dental treatment will hurt, let the dentist know. Everyone’s pain threshold is different. Your dentist might recommend topical painkillers or a form of sedation to help you get the dental care that you need without enduring unnecessary discomfort.
Harness Your Breathing
People who are nervous have a tendency to hold their breath. Unfortunately, the resulting lack of oxygen can stoke the fires of panic. Being mindful of this behavior can help you remember to breathe while you’re in the dentist’s chair. In fact, you may find that focusing on breathing slowly and deeply acts like a meditation exercise and helps you to relax.
Use Music to Relax
Distraction can be a powerful tool. If you know that you find the sights and sounds of a dentist’s office unnerving, consider bringing along some headphones and your favorite music to give yourself something else to focus on while the dentist attends to your teeth and gums.
Bring a Supportive Friend
Having someone you trust watching out for you can increase your comfort level. A supportive friend can be a calming influence. It’s also reassuring to know that if they notice that you seem agitated or uncomfortable during the visit, they can alert the dentist and act as your advocate.
Make Good Oral Hygiene a Habit
Finally, the most important of our dental anxiety tips is to practice good oral hygiene. If your teeth and gums are in good shape, then your dental visit should be fairly simple and you’ll have less to worry about. Brush and floss properly every day, eat a healthy diet, and avoid sugary foods and drinks. Of course, regular checkups are also a critical part of a good oral hygiene routine, so don’t dodge the dentist. Be sure to visit your dentist regularly, typically around every six months.
When you need gentle dental care provided by knowledgeable, compassionate professionals, you can count on Wilkinson Dental. No matter how long it’s been since you’ve visited the dentist, we are committed to your comfort. We are proud to offer you and your family a relaxing office environment while providing the care you need for a happier, healthier smile, and we offer a variety of services like cleaning and exams, teeth whitening, and more. If you’re feeling a little nervous about making an appointment, you might enjoy getting to know us through our Ozarks Live segment. When you are ready to set up an appointment, please give us a call at 417-708-0556 or click here. We look forward to hearing from you!