Do you or someone you know experience high amounts of anxiety when faced with the prospect of visiting the dentist?
If so, don’t feel bad. Dental care anxiety is more common than you may think. Many people around the world share these same fears.
Perhaps the worries are triggered by the anticipation of pain or discomfort, unpleasant past memories, or the prospect of not being able to speak while the dentist is working. Perhaps the anxiety is nonspecific. Whatever the cause, finding a way to manage your dental care anxiety is vital.
Don’t Underestimate the Important of Routine Check Ups
Difficult as it may be, it is very important to not let your fears prevent you from getting regular access to dental care. Oral health has major impacts on your overall health and wellbeing and left unchecked can contribute to the development of diseases, like diabetes.
Leading healthcare professionals recommend that you see get your teeth cleaned and checked every six months, or at least once a year. This can help keep your teeth healthy and catch any potential issues early on, before they can cause too much damage.
Putting off routine dental care means letting these things go unchecked – if they worsen, they can cause health issues and extreme pain, and will require even more dental work in the end.
If anxiety is keeping you from accessing regular dental care, try implementing some of these strategies.
1. Find A Dentist You Are Comfortable With
One of the best ways to start tackling dental anxiety is to find a dentist practice you are comfortable with. This goes beyond just feeling at easy with the dentist themselves – dental hygienists are the ones who do most of the work when it comes to check ups and routine cleansings, so their level of care should be considered when choosing a practice.
If you don’t feel completely comfortable with your current dentist or regular hygienist, don’t feel bad about asking to see someone else or changing to a different practice entirely. Do some shopping around – many practices offer cost-free consultations for prospective patients to let you get a better feel of the place.
If you’re looking for a quality and comforting dentist you can trust, visit our website for more information about how we can make your appointment more relaxing.
2. Let the Staff Know
It might be the last thing you want to do, but communicating your feelings to the staff is critical. They can’t do anything to make you more comfortable if they don’t know there’s a problem. Once you begin the dialogue, the staff will usually be able to take it from there.
Most dental staff will explain what they’re going to do before they get started, and then narrate what they’re doing as they work. Keeping you informed about the process, and knowing what to expect, will help you feel more in control and reduce the anxiety. If your dental care provider seems unwilling to do this, then it’s probably time to take your business elsewhere.
3. Try Some Deep Breathing Exercises
You’ve probably heard that meditation exercises can be very effective for combatting anxiety. That’s all well and good, but most people probably find it a little difficult to meditate with a mouthful of dental equipment. There are certain mediation elements that you can borrow to help you feel more comfortable during your visit.
Deep breathing is one of the key parts of mediation that helps you achieve that calm, centred feeling – and is definitely something you can do while getting dental work done. Just focus on taking deep, steady breaths in and out of your nose – remember not to use your mouth!
4. Bring Something to Take Your Mind Off It
Bringing something to keep you busy is another good tactic to help keep the anxiety at bay. Your dental staff won’t think anything of it, especially if they are already aware of how you feel. You might try bringing some ear buds and listening to your favourite songs, or perhaps an audiobook, or even a relaxation app.
Alternatively, you could bring a small fidget device, if you want to be a little more discrete. Small items like a fidget spinner or fidget cube can easily fit in your pocket and help keep you mind off of the procedure without drawing a lot of attention to yourself. You could also try doing both, if you are feeling particularly anxious.
5. Establish Non-Verbal Signals with Your Dentist
One of the aspects of dental care that can trigger a lot of anxiety is the loss of verbal communication. It’s pretty hard to talk when you have a mouth full of dental equipment and you’re supposed to be keeping still – even though most dentists like to make conversation as they work!
Establishing some hand signals or other non-verbal cues with your dentist or hygienist before they begin. This will help you feel more in control and will allow you to communicate to them if you want them to slow down or take a break. It can be as simple as raising your hand to indicate that you need a breather or sip of water.
Many dental care professionals will be reading your body language anyway and will automatically pause if you start to look uncomfortable or sit up.
6. Ask About Sedation Dentistry
If none of the other techniques have worked for you, and you are still unable to access regular dental care, it might be time to look into sedation dentistry. As the name suggests, this technique allows patients to be fully sedated – via some form of anaesthesia – during their procedure. It’s not only for surgeries! Many patients with severe anxiety use it for routine cleanings and check-ups.
If you think sedation dentistry might be right for you, ask your dentist if they offer it. Not all dental practices do – so you might have to change to a different provider. You’ll probably also want to check that your insurance will cover the cost of the medication they use to put you under. Some insurance will only cover certain medications, or only allow them for specific reasons.