Dental anxiety is a common and understandable fear of the dentist. It is estimated that as many as one in four people experience dental anxiety. Unfortunately, avoiding the dentist because of fear isn’t advisable. Untended cavities will inevitably worsen and become more painful with time.
In addition, it is much more challenging for an individual with dental anxiety to find a new dentist they can trust and feel comfortable with again. If you want to overcome your dental anxiety but aren’t sure how just yet, read on for 4 helpful tips that could help you get back into the swing.
4 tips to help overcome dental anxiety
Research your dentist
When you visit a new dentist for the first time, you want to ensure you are as informed as possible about the practice and your dentist’s background. Dentists are required to be registered with the profession’s regulatory body. It is good to check this to ensure the dentist is registered correctly.
You can also find out what services the dentist offers and how many patients they see daily. This can give you a sense of the practice’s volume and capacity to meet your unique dental needs.
Finally, you also want to check out the dentist’s and the practice’s reviews. The vast majority of reviews are posted online these days, making it easy to learn more about the dentist and the experience of others.
Try breathing exercises
The easiest way to get started working on your dental anxiety is to try breathing exercises. When you feel anxious, the level of CO2 in your blood (the CO2 being Carbon dioxide) increases, causing you to feel like you need more air in your lungs.
Additionally, your muscles may tense up, and your heart rate may increase. Breathing exercises, such as the “4-7-8” method, can help to lower your CO2 levels back to normal and calm you down. Improved breathing will help reduce your heart rate and relax your muscles, making it easier to concentrate on the dentist and on what is happening during your appointment.
Find a distraction
For many people, dental appointments are long and uncomfortable. If you are experiencing dental anxiety and are aware of the length of your appointment, this can cause your anxiety to increase and make the appointment uncomfortable for you. One way to combat this is to find a distraction.
Dentists usually allow you to use headphones when listening to music, and many people find this helpful in blocking out the sounds of the dentist’s equipment. If you don’t want to listen to music, try bringing a book or magazine to the appointment and reading until it is time for your procedure.
Talk to your dentist about your fears.
If you have dental anxiety, there’s a good chance your dentist knows. Many dentists have seen patients who have experienced dental anxiety in the past. Most are empathetic to the experience and receptive to help make your experience as pleasant as possible.
If you are nervous or anxious before your appointment, try talking to your dentist about your fears. Explain that you have dental anxiety and don’t want it to affect your visit.
Many dentists will allow patients to come in earlier, get a head-start on their treatment, or use sedation dentistry to relax them further for their appointment. These small gestures can go a long way in helping you feel more comfortable and relaxed during your dental appointment.
Dental anxiety is a common fear many people experience when visiting their dentist. Fortunately, there are many ways to help overcome dental anxiety, such as researching your dentist, trying breathing exercises, finding a distraction, and talking to your dentist about your fears.
It is also essential to schedule routine visits to the dentist for regular check-ups and a complete examination once every year. These tips make overcoming dental anxiety easier to manage, allowing you to enjoy life with healthy and clean teeth.