Coping with Dental Anxiety
Does the idea of visiting your dentist’s office send a shiver down your spine? Do your palms get sweaty when you hear the sound of a dental drill and your breathing become rapid and shallow when a needle approaches your mouth? Is the memory of your last dental visit a nightmare? You are not alone! Dental related anxiety affects an estimated 15% of dental patients. So, what are they afraid of?
Common Dental fears/anxieties:
Let’s face it, there are many aspects of a dental visit that may seem scary! The most common dental anxieties are:
- Needles – the needle itself as well as the location of possible injections
- The drill– the sound, vibration and possible pain
- Pain – remembered and/or anticipated
- Sedation – fear of the feelings of sedation or that sedation will not work properly
- Feelings of helplessness/loss of control/ claustrophobia – from being stuck in the chair, the close presence of the dentist, the probe inside your mouth
- Financial anxiety – re the cost of dental procedures
- Embarrassment – about poor dental hygiene, bad breath, the state of your mouth
What you can do about your dental anxiety:
With so many possible fears and anxieties, what can you do to prepare for and cope with dental procedures?
- Identify your fear – once you know what your fear is about you can work toward a solution
- Choose the right dentist – one who will listen to and acknowledge your fears – someone recommended by family/friends – someone willing to work with your needs/desires regarding anxiety
- Talk to your dentist – explain your fears – ask how they handle the dental anxieties of their patients – ask them to explain the upcoming treatment and inform you of each step as they proceed – request any special techniques or procedures that may help you (i.e. A numbing gel prior to injections, a signal to let them know that you need a break)
- Take someone with you – many people find it comforting to have a friend/family member along
- Distract yourself during the procedure – listen to music, squeeze a stress ball, play with a fidget spinner, imagine yourself in a happy place, wear a mask to block light, use ear plugs to muffle drill noise, practice deep breathing techniques and/or use aromatherapy
- Ask for sedation – if you think it will help
- Watch what you eat and drink – avoid caffeine and sugar before your appointment – eat high protein foods for their calming effect
- Make prior financial arrangements – most dental offices will create a comfortable payment plan
- Seek professional help – if your fear/anxiety is so great that it keeps you from ensuring your best oral health, consult a psychologist that specializes in addressing phobias including dental fear
Dental providers recognize that people have apprehensions so they provide as comfortable and reassuring an atmosphere for their clients as possible. If you have dental anxiety, talk to your dentist!
If you have dental anxiety and wish to discuss ways we can help, call Centennial Smiles at (587) 317‑7959.