Dental Anxiety and You
It’s Monday morning. You wake up with a grueling toothache, but all you can think about is how much you don’t want to go to the dentist. You associate the trip with a stranger leaning over your mouth with sharp tools in hand, bringing far too much discomfort for one sitting. Ultimately, you decide to go to work anyway without heading to the dentist. This choice is a missed opportunity because dental visits can actually help alleviate your aches and fears.
We understand. We all have experiences that make us feel nervous (Halloween is right around the corner, for example!). Dental anxiety often arises from past experiences or fearing what a visit might feel like. All we ask is that you keep an open mind. Much of the time, our anxieties project thoughts that are not looking out for our best interest. When you resist a dental visit, problems easily become more uncomfortable, complicated, and expensive.
Even if you don’t have a toothache, regular exams and cleanings can catch and prevent potential issues before they become major inconveniences (Monday morning, anyone?). Don’t despair. We have your back.
What You Can Do
Despite your dental anxiety, realize you are doing yourself a huge favor by scheduling that first appointment. Give yourself a pat on the back because confronting fears is not an easy feat. Before calling a dental office, conduct some research online to see what others say about their experience. All dental practices are built differently. Make sure the one you go to has a compassionate team that cares about you and your oral health.
When you head out for your appointment, plan ahead. Bring items that are helpful in comforting or distracting you. Listen to music. Wear your pajamas. Bring your stuffed animal and pillow. Take your best friend. You can turn a dental visit into a full-fledged pajama party if you want to. At our office, we can provide you with a set of noise-canceling headphones for all your music listening needs. No matter the situation, our team provides a judgment-free atmosphere that enhances comfort.
If you are someone who faces dental anxiety, even to a small degree, let your dentist know. The more they know what you are going through, the more likely they can accommodate and ease your anxiety. Your office may be able to offer nitrous oxide or oral sedation if you still have trouble finding courage.
Most of our patients find that once they come to the office and see us for the first visit, dental anxiety becomes a distant memory. Sometimes all it takes is showing up. When patients do this, they confront their fears and have a chance to realize that anxious thoughts are just that: thoughts. The bottom line is that we are here to help, not harm.
No Need to Fear
Dental anxiety, as with any anxiety, revolves around loss of control. We are here to let you know that you do have tons of control over your visit. Using the tips described above gives plenty of room to prepare in advance. When in the dental chair, you have the freedom to discuss concerns with your dental provider who should listen and address them with compassion. Ask your dentist to explain everything that they intend to do as well. Knowledge is useful for lowering anxiety. Even when the dentist is looking in your mouth, they can give you a hand signal or sign that lets them know to stop and take a break.
At the root of it all, we want you to know that the dentist is nothing to fear. We are here to make you feel better in the long term and to provide as much comfort as possible in the process. Our team is not only friendly but also ready to go the extra mile to ensure feelings of safety and comfort. Encourage yourself to take initiative in planning a visit because we believe everyone deserves phenomenal oral health. Dental anxiety doesn’t have the right to have the final say over your wellbeing.