Dental anxiety is a challenge among many people. Studies show that up to 36% of the population avoids the dentist out of fear. When left untreated, dental anxiety can lead to a deterioration of oral health.
When you fear the dentist, injection, and other dental procedures, you are more likely to avoid visiting the dentist. This avoidance can cause minor problems to turn into large ones, like cavities becoming infected teeth, which can lead to gum disease and tooth loss. When you have even one of these issues, it becomes challenging to eat, speak, and smile with confidence—and your overall health and happiness can suffer as a result.
Dental anxiety has many causes. Some people are afraid of needles, while others have had bad experiences with their dentist in the past or are worried about the cost of dental care. No matter the cause, it’s important to find ways to overcome your anxiety to maintain good oral health.
There are many ways to overcome dental anxiety, and the best approach depends on the individual. The following are some tips that can help stop dental anxiety from damaging oral health.
Understand Your Dental Anxiety
Knowing the cause of your dental anxiety can help you find the best way to deal with it. Suppose you’re afraid of needles. You might ask your dentist about getting numbing gel before your injection. If you have had bad experiences in the past, try to find a new dentist who makes you feel more comfortable.
Other people may be more anxious about the cost of dental care. If this is the case, ask your dentist about payment options before you have any work done. Many dentists offer financing plans that can help make dental care more affordable.
If your dental fear is due to a general anxiety disorder, consider consulting with a mental health professional to find additional ways to deal with your anxiety. They can help you develop coping mechanisms to use in dental situations.
Find a Reliable Dental Clinic
Improving your oral health and overcoming dental anxiety is possible if you have a trusted dental clinic. Some people learned to love going to the dentist by finding a dental clinic where they feel relaxed, respected, and well-cared for. With a bit of effort, you, too, can find a dental home that meets your needs and helps you keep your smile healthy for years to come.
Look for a dental office that is clean, spacious, and comfortable, and has a team of licensed staff that is friendly and accommodating. It should offer various dental services so you can get all the care you need in one place. The right clinic also uses the latest dental technologies to provide you with high-quality care.
If you have sleep apnea, it also helps if your new go-to dental home offers sleep apnea services. This way, you can get the dental care and treatment you need without worrying about your anxiety. The pros can recommend sleeping devices to help you get a good night’s sleep, reducing your anxiety and stress.
Bring Someone You Can Trust
It helps if a trusted loved one can come with you to your next dental appointment. This person can provide support and understanding and make you feel more relaxed during your dental procedure. Having a companion by your side will make it easier to face your fear and get the treatment you need.
For example, you need to replace a tooth after a recent fall and are anxious about getting dental implants. Your spouse or best friend can come with you to your consultation and waits in the waiting room during your procedure. This will make the process less daunting and help you better cope with your anxiety.
Use Distraction Techniques
Sometimes, a good distraction technique is all it takes to get through a dental procedure. This can help take your mind off the treatment and make you feel more relaxed. This will also help you avoid feeling any pain while your dentist works their way around your mouth.
Some people prefer to listen to music while getting dental work done. Studies show that music can help lower stress and anxiety and improve pain tolerance. If you don’t want to wear headphones during your procedure, you can ask the staff to play calming music in the background.
If you have a hard time sitting still, you might want to ask your dentist about getting nitrous oxide, which can help you relax without making you feel sleepy. Nitrous oxide is a gas you breathe through a mask during your procedure. You will be able to hear and respond to the dentist, but you will feel more relaxed.
If having a conversation is what you need, let your dentist know beforehand. This way, they can make small talk with you while they are working, which can help take your mind off the procedure. You can use this time to get to know your dentist better and build a rapport with them, which can help reduce your anxiety the next time you need to see them.
You can also practice deep breathing to lessen your stress and anxiety. Inhale through your nose and count to four, then exhale through your mouth for the same amount of time. Repeat this process until you feel more relaxed.
The sooner you deal with your dental anxiety, the better. This way, you can avoid any complications from neglecting your oral health. Use these tips to help you overcome your fear of going to the dentist and get the dental care you need to keep your smile healthy and bright.