Fear of going to the dentist is a common type of health-care related anxiety. There is a wide range of triggers that may cause someone to become anxious when sitting in the chair at a dental office, such as the fear of pain, the fear of needles, claustrophobia or the sounds or sensations may make them anxious. Unfortunately, these fears often lead to long-term avoidance of proper oral health care, which ultimately leads to more serious health problems. The good news is there are things you can do to help manage your anxiety.
Be Open and Honest With your Dentist
If you become tense and anxious while at the dentist office, the first thing to do to help you cope with the appointment and the examination is to talk with your dentist. When calling to make the appointment, tell the receptionist about your anxiety and when you are with the dentist, be open and honest about your fears. Be sure to ask any questions you may have, including what the procedure consists of. Let your dentist know that if your anxiety becomes too much to bear, you may have to take a break.
Redirect Your Focus
Taking your mind off of the procedure may seem impossible when you’re tense and anxious, but there are some things you can do to help you cope and redirect your focus away from what’s going on around you:
- Wearing headphones will block the sounds and listening to your favorite music will help distract you from the procedure itself.
- It’s common for people to hold their breath when they are tense, so be sure to focus on your breathing; learning simple breathing exercises before going may help to reduce your anxiety.
- Download a movie onto your tablet or phone to watch during your procedure. Don’t forget to bring headphones.
Bring a Friend
Sometimes it’s just the simple fact of being alone in a situation that can increase your fear and tension, so consider taking a friend or family member with you to the appointment. In many situations, the dentist will allow someone to sit with you during your examination, which can help to reduce your anxiety. Just remember to let your dentist know ahead of time that you would prefer someone be with you during your appointment.
Ask About Anti-Anxiety Medications
Some dental practices offer patients with dental anxiety an anti-anxiety medication to help reduce their anxiousness during the appointment. If this is something you may need, it is important to talk with your dentist before the appointment in order for the dentist to ensure that the medications they offer are safe for you and any other medical condition you may have.
One of the most important things you can do to help you cope with dental exams is to be honest with your dentist. When making the appointment, let the receptionist know your concerns so that they can relay your situation to the dentist. Be sure to find a dentist office where you feel comfortable. In some situations, the dentist will arrange for you to visit the office before scheduling an exam, this will give you an opportunity to get acquainted with the staff, which will sometimes help reduce your anxiety.
If you have dental anxiety, contact us at Trailhead Dental to learn how we can help put you at ease during your visit.