Are you or a loved one suffering from dental phobia? You know you’re not alone – and here’s how to get through it to protect your teeth, gums, and body.
Do you keep putting off that dentist appointment because of fear and anxiety?
Are you haunted by a past negative experience?
Do you literally feel sick to your stomach at the very thought of sitting in that dental chair?
Dental phobia is a very real thing and affects millions of people in the U.S. Unfortunately, giving into those fears just creates more dental woes down the road.
However, there are steps you can take to calm your nerves and eventually eliminate your dental phobias altogether.
So sit back and relax with these five tips for calming your fears.
Today’s Dentistry Is Safe and Gentle
Dentistry has come a long way.
It’s gentler, less painful, more accurate, and uses state-of-the-art tools. But despite such advancements, up to 15% of Americans still avoid going to the dentist because of their dental phobia.
That’s almost 40 million people!
So why are so many Americans afraid to go to the dentist?
To understand, let’s break down what dental phobia is all about:
- Fear of Pain
- Not being in control
- Past negative experiences at the dentist
Fortunately, today’s dentistry practices include gentle cleaning techniques, equipment, and medications to make sure you feel as little pain as possible.
Tools are thin and narrow, which makes for more comfortable teeth cleanings and procedures.
Today’s dental implants and fillings are long-lasting, comfortable, and feel more natural.
For example, if you need fillings, dentists now use natural-looking tooth composites that comfortably mold to your teeth, so you experience far less pain post-procedure. Plus, you’re also given medication or numbing agents during your procedure to eliminate any pain.
Don’t be afraid to speak up to your hygienist either, and let them know you’re worried about your sensitive teeth and gums.
Of course, the best way to avoid pain at the dentist is to properly brush and floss your teeth every day.
Medications Keep The Pain Away
If you need fillings, root canals, restorative work, or any other serious dental procedures, know that your dentist will never proceed before administering medication for the pain.
Experienced dentists use the following medications to reduce anxiety and control pain:
- Nitrous oxide: Commonly known as “laughing gas”, nitrous oxide is used to calm patients for more complicated dental surgeries.
- For intense teeth cleanings, your hygienist may use anesthetic gels or special patches.
- If you’re extra nervous, your dentist may recommend a sedative for your procedure.
- Your dentist may use a rub some cetacaine on your gums to numb them before minor dental work.
- For fillings and other dental procedures, your dentist may inject a local anesthetic into your gums.
If you have any preferences or concerns, make sure to discuss them all with your dentist prior to your procedure, and make sure you have someone ready to pick you up from your appointment.
For involved surgeries, like wisdom teeth pulling, your dentist will also prescribe an extra strength pain medication for your recovery.
Time Flys When You’re Distracted
One of the best ways to calm your nerves is to distract yourself.
Dentist offices have books and magazines to pass the time, but you can do a lot on your own to ease your worries.
In fact, studies show that participating in hobbies can reduce stress by 34%!
Here are some hassle-free hobbies you can do in the waiting room:
- Drawing and sketching
- Smartphone games
- Crossword puzzles
- Handheld games
- Knitting and crochet
You may want to bring a stress ball or putty to manage all that nervous energy while you wait.
You can also distract yourself during your cleaning or procedure.
Some offices include TVs on the ceiling to entertain patients during routine cleanings. You may also use headphones to listen to calming music during your procedure as well.
Relaxation Techniques For Dental Phobia
Everyone’s nerves set in the day of their dentist appointment.
If you’re extra nervous, try the following relaxation techniques before your appointment:
- Light walking
- Calming teas
- Calming bath
You can also try visualization exercises to help “transport” yourself to a more calming place. People will often think of the ocean and visualize the air, sand, salty taste, and waves to calm their nerves. That’s why listening to nature sounds is so relaxing.
You may also want to light calming candles and incense as well. Common calming scents include jasmine, lavender, lemon, fresh-cut grass, and vanilla.
Though tempting, refrain from aggressively brushing and flossing your teeth to make up for lost time. Poor dental care is one of the main reasons people avoid the dentist, but if you overcompensate, your gums will be more tender, inflamed, and prone to pain during your cleaning.
Be Honest With Your Dentist
Just one negative experience can trigger dental phobia.
Over time, dental phobia naturally leads to embarrassment from discolorations, chipped teeth, gum inflammation, and other concerns.
Embarrassment is one of the main reasons people put off going to the dentist, but understand that your dentist has seen it all. Literally.
They’ve seen every cavity, missing tooth, abscess, and broken tooth imaginable, so don’t let your embarrassment hold you back.
Don’t hesitate to tell your dentist you’re embarrassed either or express any other concerns you have.
There are also dentists more specialized in dealing with nervous patients than others. That’s why it’s important to consult with office staff and potential dentists first.
If you have a good relationship with your dentist, it’s much easier to talk about your dental phobia and eventually get over your fears. Plus, you and your dentist can discuss using a special signal to stop or slow down a procedure if you get too nervous.
Of course, the best way to keep dental phobia at bay is to brush and floss properly every day and to visit your dentist at least twice a year.
It doesn’t take much to get spooked from the dentist, but dental phobia prevents you from getting the dental work you need.
Call today to find a dentist who can help you manage your dental phobia and remember these five relaxing tips for staying calm on appointment day.