A study published this month showed that one third of patients suffer from high anxiety before dental treatment! [a] You’d be surprised how many patients I see with dental phobia. If you are one of those people, this article is for you! Whether it’s an expectation of pain, a previous bad experience or something else – there are some things that can be done to help you manage the stress that you feel when you visit the dentist.
Ask questions. Prior to treatment, ask your dentist any questions about the procedure and how any potential pain will be managed. Ask about length of time in the chair, how injections are handled, and anything else that will help you know you are in control.
Talk with your dentist about any fears you may have and any prior bad experiences. A good dentist will be able to work with you to make sure you are comfortable.
Establish a signal. Talk with a dentist about a signal you can make to help your dentist know if you are uncomfortable during a procedure.
Ask about additional aids. Nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”) relaxes patients during more complex procedures. If you don’t want to be awake during the procedure, ask your dentist if sedation is an option. There are also topical gels that can be used to topically numb your gums before deep cleanings or injections.
Bring a small comfort item like a blanket that makes you more comfortable. Maybe you have some relaxing music to bring on your iPod, but make sure to use only one earbud during the procedure so you are not isolated from any communication.
Visit Dental Fear Central. This non-profit site offers some great advice as well as online forums to peruse.
Although none of these ideas can just take away anxiety you may feel at the dental office, they can help ease the stress. In some cases, these ideas will help you conquer dental phobia! Preventative hygiene visits can help reduce the need for more invasive procedures, so don’t let anxiety keep you from getting your teeth cleaned.