5 Ways to Overcome Fear of the Dentist
We know coming to see us is not all of our patient’s favorite activity (although we suspect there are a few of you out there counting down the days until your next hygiene visit). For everyone else, know that anxiety about your dental visit is completely normal. Your mouth is an extremely personal area of your body, and allowing someone to enter that area requires trust, comfort, and communication. Unfortunately, there is a small percentage of patients that become crippled so much by their anxiety they avoid the dentist altogether due to many reasons including poor past experiences with previous dentists, fear of pain, and fear of injections, usually resulting in poor oral health and larger dental procedures in the future. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome those anxieties, five of which are listed below:
FIND A DENTIST YOU TRUST. This method alone is the reason we treat our patients as if they were family members in all aspects of our practice. Open communication with Dr. Guido about your dental needs and anxieties can help him build a treatment plan around your comfort level. You will also find that he fully explains what is going to happen next, asks you for permission to continue treatment, gives you the opportunity to stop if you begin to feel uncomfortable, and allows for breaks at your request. You are still in control despite all the action going on in your mouth. Even if you have never visited our office, you can call to schedule a meet and greet with Dr. Guido in order to determine your comfort level with him and our practice. Finding a dental team you can trust can greatly curb dental anxiety.
ASK ABOUT SEDATION DENTISTRY. Each of us tolerates dental treatment, pain, and anesthetics differently. For those with zero tolerance, ask us about sedation treatment to see if it is a good fit for you. You can choose from nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”) or medication that will put you to sleep. While the second option requires a friend or relative to drive you to and from your appointment, you may not even remember it the next day and you will maintain excellent oral health.
BRING A FRIEND OR RELATIVE. Many patients choose to bring along with them someone they trust such as a friend or relative, as long as they are comfortable in a dentist office. They can even join you in the operatory during your procedure. The same goes for children whether they experience anxiety or not. All parents are welcome to join their children in the hygiene rooms and operatories.
FOCUS ON SLOW, REGULAR BREATHING. Often times when we begin to feel nervous, we tend to hold our breath. This decreases our oxygen levels and can intensify those anxious feelings. By focusing on your breathing and concentrating on slow, regular breaths, you can lessen anxious feelings and prevent panic attacks.
SPACING OUT TREATMENT. If you have been given a treatment plan with several procedures listed, we know it can become overwhelming between the number of visits, amount of time for each appointment, and cost. While there may be an ideal path for a particular treatment plan, there are many ways of reaching the same ultimate goal. Treatment can be spaced out over time if needed. A couple of low stress appointments can even help you cope with future treatment. Simply communicate your needs with Dr. Guido and our team members and we will find a way to make your treatment comfortable.
Before you know it you will find dentistry as fun as we do!....Maybe not, but hopefully these suggestions will help with any anxiety you may feel. Leave us a comment below and share what works for you. Your suggestion may even help another patient!