Many people avoid going to the dentist due to anxiety and fear. In fact, an estimated 30-40 million people avoid the dentist out of anxiety, so if this is your situation, know that you are not alone and most dentists are very accustomed to working with fearful patients. The important thing is to proactively get past your fear in order to go to the dentist soon, so that any issues with your teeth can be resolved before they become more serious. Here are five tips for overcoming your fear of the dentist:
Take Your Time Researching Dentists
Choosing the right dentist--someone like Desert Dental: Ruintan Kamran D.M.D.--will go a long way toward ensuring you have a positive experience when you visit the dentist, while helping to resolve your dentist-related anxiety. When researching dentists, look for dentists who have positive reviews from patients, especially reviews that emphasize their warm and empathetic bedside manner. You may also want to ask local friends for referrals.
Finally, spend time perusing the websites of dentists you are considering. Ideally, your new dentist will mention that they welcome anxious patients and are willing to do what it takes to make them comfortable.
Consider Sedation Dentistry
Finding a dentist who offers sedation dentistry is often a great solution for patients with dental anxiety. Sedation dentistry varies widely in strength, from very light sedation that makes you feel a bit more calm, to full sedation where you are essentially asleep during your dentist visit. Which option is right for you will depend on your oral health concerns, the extent of your anxiety, and what is available at dentist offices in your city.
Spend Time Reducing Your Anxiety
If you spend time reducing your overall anxiety before your appointment, you may be surprised by how much more calm you feel during your dentist visit. Try setting time aside a couple of times a day to relax and reduce anxiety in the days leading up to your appointment. This can include relaxing activities like listening to soothing classical music, writing your fears down in a journal, deep stretching or yoga, and deep breathing exercises.
Some people also find that getting a massage or acupuncture before a stressful event is very helpful, since both of these help your body release feel-good hormones like endorphins, which have pain relieving and anti-anxiety benefits.
Consider Seeing a Psychiatrist for Severe Anxiety
If your fear of visiting the dentist is extreme, perhaps leading to panic attacks or nightmares, you may want to make an appointment with a psychiatrist. They may be able to prescribe a mild sedative and work with you on tactics such as deep breathing and distraction that will help ease your anxiety symptoms. Just be sure to let your dentist know if you take a prescription anti-anxiety medication before your appointment, so they can adjust your in-office sedation accordingly and ensure your safety.
Communicate Your Fears
When calling or emailing to make your appointment, it's a great idea to mention that you haven't been to the dentist in awhile because you are fearful. Then, mention it again when you check into your appointment. This gives your dentist and their staff the chance to work with you to make sure you are comfortable and not afraid. They may offer you a tablet with headphones so you can watch movies, spend extra time explaining each step they take so you know what to expect, and will generally adjust their style to take your anxiety into account.
By following these tips, you will soon be able to manage your fear of the dentist and take control of your oral health.