Are you anxious about seeing your dentist? Do you keep putting off your checkup?
If your answer to both questions us a resounding ‘yes,’ you may find comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone.
Millions of people in the US and around the globe experience dental anxiety. It is a feeling of fear that affects people of all ages, from kids to seniors. People are fearful that something will go wrong during the procedure or checkup, even if their previous experiences were positive.
So, to ease your worries, let an experienced cosmetic dentist in Fort Lauderdale reveal to you some of the most common causes of dental anxiety and how you can overcome them:
You may have had a bad experience with your dentist or heard of horror stories from other people about their trips to the dental office. Ideally, you should not feel any pain during a procedure. Regardless of your level of tolerance for pain, there are ways to make your dental experience as comfortable and as painless as possible.
Let your dentist know about your fears and tolerance for pain. Dentists have a range of anesthetics and gels in their arsenal that they can use to make the area numb.
Some anesthetics are delivered using a syringe. However, seeing a syringe can sometimes send patients into a panic. If you are one to get tense at the sight of needles, your dentist can opt to use nitrous oxide or laughing gas to make you feel more relaxed.
Effects of sedation
Sedation dentistry is another route that the dentist may recommend for making the procedure as painless as possible. However, some people get worried about feeling helpless or losing mobility while sedated.
With most types of sedation, you remain conscious throughout the procedure. You may feel sleepy, which is normal and expected when taking any sedative.
But even while sedated, you retain your motor functions. This gives you the freedom to send signals to the dentist or the staff if you feel any pain or distress during the procedure.
The only case where you may be totally unconscious is when general anesthesia is applied. This is only needed for major oral surgery or if you are resistant to other forms of sedation.
The dental drill
The drill is a common dental tool that causes anxiety in patients. Because drills are typically used in building projects, the thought of using one inside the mouth terrifies a number of people.
Much like needles, there is little cause for concern as the dentist will desensitize the area where the drill will be used. All the patient will feel is a bit of pressure against the tooth or bone and some vibration but no pain.
Possible bad experiences
A single negative experience in the past can affect how a patient views future experiences. It doesn’t even have to be about the procedure itself but other aspects of the dental visit. Maybe it’s a dentist who doesn’t listen to patients, an annoying receptionist or being charged extra for services.
Whatever the cause for your anxiety, there are ways to deal with and alleviate it.
How to deal with dental anxiety
- Identify your fear
How do you feel about visiting the dentist even for the checkup? Do you experience shortness of breath or do you start to sweat or tremble at the notion of seeing your dentist? Does your heart beat faster than normal?
If your level of fear becomes too high, you may have a phobia towards dentists. In such cases, you may need to work with a mental health professional to help you deal with your fear.
Once you have ensured that what you feel is anxiety and not a phobia, identify the cause of your anxiety. Are you afraid of needles or the sound of the dental drill? By identifying the source, you are one step closer to dealing with the anxiety.
- Talk to the dentist
When dealing with dental anxiety, you have two options: staying with your current dental service provider or going to a different dentist. If you are planning to stick with your current dentist, you should inform the dental staff about your experience. This will allow them to understand what you are feeling so they can make the proper adjustments.
In the event that the situation with your dentist is beyond repair, start searching for a different dental clinic. Ask for reviews from your family and friends on recommended clinics in your area. Book for initial consultations or even just a checkup.
Talk to dentists from different clinics to see which one is most willing to listen and can offer the best suggestions on how to address your needs.
Do you feel conscious going to the dentist alone? Bring a relative or friend along with you during your checkup or procedure. They can give you comfort and support when seeing your dentist.
- Ask about sedation options
The initial consultation is an opportunity for you to learn as much as possible about the dentist and any treatments you need to take. Make sure you feel comfortable before agreeing to undergo any treatment or procedure.
The dentist should offer you options and let you know what to expect from any dental procedures you need to take. Ask for an estimated cost and any potential aftercare tips to help you prepare mentally.
If you have a low tolerance for pain, ask the dentist if you can take sedatives. The goal is to make your trip as painless as possible.
- Choose a stress-free time
When scheduling for a checkup or procedure, choose a time when you’re not overwhelmed with other tasks or worries. Most people choose the weekend for this purpose.
If weekends are not possible, schedule the visit during the early morning. This way, you are less likely to be stressed prior to seeing the dentist. Be sure to also free up your morning schedule, or take the rest of the day off if possible.
- Find ways to relax
Teaching yourself to relax may entail learning about breathing and meditation techniques. Ask your dentist if you could listen to some headphone music. This can help take your mind off of the noise and what the dentist is doing.
Be sure to implement these tips before or during your next dental appointment. If you think your anxiety stems from the dental office itself and it cannot be resolved, make it your mission to find a suitable dentist for your needs.
By following these tips, you are on your way to having a more positive dental experience.