Many individuals have some form of dental anxiety. Dental anxiety is any fear or worry when it comes to visiting the dentist. These fears can be rooted in poor experiences, but often, dental anxiety comes from feeling a lack of control when in the dentist’s chair. The lack of control can be frightening, as can the potential of having any dental problems. In fact, some people will avoid the dentist entirely due to their dental anxiety and fear. Dentists are partly to blame for the anxiety some patients experience, as some dentists are not as careful as others when it comes to pain control, comfort, and other factors.
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However, there are also many ways that you can learn to manage and overcome dental anxiety yourself. Here are four ways to help manage dental anxiety.
Talk to Your Dentist
The first and best thing you can do is talk to your dentist about your anxiety, or find a dentist who understands your fears. Your dentist can work with you to make you as comfortable as possible and provide further options to make appointments go quicker and more smoothly. Your dentist should be understanding and compassionate, as you are most likely not the only patient with dental anxiety they’ve had before. In fact, dentists who have worked with patients with dental anxiety in the past may know more about how they can help you to have a better experience at their office.
Having support is important for everyday life. You can help ease your anxiety by visiting a friend or family member before your appointment and even bringing them with you to your appointment. Many dental offices encourage patients to bring someone in with them during treatment. You can have your dental work done with someone you trust right by your side, helping you to stay relaxed.
For mild dental anxiety, distractions work very well. Anything from listening to music to watching TV can help keep you distracted and calm. Whatever you’re engaging in, try to make sure you’re not too familiar with it, as something new is bound to be more distracting than something you already know well. For example, rather than listening to songs you know by heart, try listening to a playlist or album you haven’t heard of or one you haven’t explored much so you can keep your brain engaged.
Consider Sedation Dentistry
If you have severe dental anxiety, you still need to visit the dentist to stay healthy. In addition to therapy and support, sedation dentistry is an option for those who need to see the dentist. Sedation levels vary from simple oral sedation to intravenous sedation. Oral sedation is common, keeping you conscious but drowsy and relaxed to help you manage your fear. You’re also less likely to remember exactly what happened during your appointment, minimising anxiety after the fact.