Dental Anxiety Issues: Tips For Overcoming Your Fears

Despite understanding the importance of dental health and proper dental care, nearly half of adults are stricken by dental anxiety or more extreme dental fear. This anxiety or fear can make it exceptionally difficult to pursue the dental care and treatment necessary to maintain optimal oral health. Whether it's the result of a traumatic initial experience or just uncertainty about the process, there are ways to overcome that anxiety. Here's a look at a few things that you can try to help make your upcoming dental visit emotionally easier.

Start With A Conversation

The very first step toward moderating dental anxiety is to start by having a conversation with the dentist. Schedule a consultation appointment before your first cleaning so that you can become familiar with the dentist and the staff in the practice. Explain your fears and anxieties and ask the dentist to be mindful of those concerns when you come in for your dental visit. Remind them again about your concerns and anxieties when you go in for the next visit. This will encourage the dentist and staff to be open and communicative, which can make the process easier for you.

Consider Distraction Techniques

If you struggle with dental anxieties or fear, you'll spend your entire dental visit hyper-focused on what the dentist is doing, what you're feeling, and the sounds you're hearing. This can actually worsen your anxiety and tension in the moment. That tension can also lead to pain, fatigue, and other struggles. You can help to minimize the effects of your fear and anxiety by employing some distraction techniques.

Bring earbuds and a digital media player or smartphone. Listen to music, a meditation podcast, or something similar while the dentist is working. This gives you something else to focus on, which will help ease the experience.

You can also employ muscle-focus distraction. This is a process where, instead of focusing on what the dentist is doing, you focus on each individual muscle group in your body. You start at your head and work all the way down to your toes, focusing on each individual muscle group to relax them. You can do this repeatedly throughout the visit to help keep tension out of your muscles. This can reduce post-procedure pain and fatigue.

Ask About Sedation

Because of the prevalence of dental anxieties and fear, and the resulting dental care avoidance, sedation has become widely available as a treatment option in conjunction with dental care. If you're struggling significantly with anxieties and fear over the dentist's office, it's in your best interest to talk with your dentist about sedation options.

In fact, you'll find that there are a few different choices when it comes to sedation. For those with mild anxieties, taking an oral anti-anxiety medication or a mild oral sedative a little while before your appointment might be enough to make the whole process easier to navigate.

If your fears are a little bit more significant, this may not be enough. In those cases, you should ask your dentist about the possibility of nitrous oxide therapy. Nitrous oxide is an anesthetic. It is a colorless gas that will help you to disassociate from the immediate treatment situation. This can make it easier for you to relax and allow the dentist to do their job.

In some situations, your fear or anxiety may be so significant that you need to ask about full sedation. This is usually done in a hospital setting because the doctor will administer general anesthesia. This is a rare option that's reserved only for severe cases, so talk with your dentist about the possibility if you believe it to be necessary.

If you struggle with dental anxiety, you're in good company. Don't let your fears keep you from protecting your oral health. Talk with your dentist about these options today to find the one that's right for you.