Top 3 Ways To Help With Dental Anxiety

Did you know that dentophobia – the fear of going to the dentist – affects 36% of the population, with 12% suffering from extreme fear? Your anxiety about going to the dentist is nothing to be ashamed of and is more common than you might think! 

Whether you fear potential pain, the unknown, sensory overload, or claustrophobia, or if your fear is from a previous traumatic experience, the good news is that dentophobia is treatable with some simple steps. Over time, you might find your fear of the dentist disappear completely. At Caring Family Dentistry, we want every patient to feel comfortable and confident in our office and would be honored to help you improve your relationship with dental treatment. This is why we have put together this list of our top 3 tips for overcoming your dental anxiety, even if just for a few minutes!

But Why Do I Even Need To Overcome Dentophobia?

Dentists provide oral healthcare that is essential to the well-being of your teeth and gums. It is important that you attend your yearly checkups to ensure your mouth’s health and catch any issues early. 

Dentists fix cavities, provide treatment or prescriptions for other issues, check for signs of mouth cancer, and help you safely whiten your teeth. At a dental visit, your hygienist may take x-rays, clean your teeth and gums, and document your mouth’s health. Then, the dentist will look for, among other things, infections or diseases that can cause bad breath, tooth decay, or gingivitis.

Dentists also provide personalized oral hygiene advice to keep your teeth and gums in top-notch condition. Those yearly visits do a lot of work in maintaining your mouth, and missing too many can have irreversible effects.

What Can I Do About My Dentophobia?

There are many ways to approach a fear of the dentist, and what works for one person might not work for another. We find these three tips most helpful, but the list is certainly not all-inclusive. For more advice, please reach out to our office! Our staff is always happy to help! Now, without further ado…

  1. Be Honest With Your Dentist

Many dental offices are trained and prepared to handle patients with dental anxiety. Being up-front about your fears allows your dental team time to prepare if they do anything special, such as put on calming music or get out any blankets or eyemasks. Some dentist offices might have a TV they can turn on for you. 

An office might also have specific team members work with you who are better qualified to handle your care — knowing from the get-go that you are nervous alerts the staff to approach your visit accordingly. 

If your anxiety is strong enough, your dentist might consider prescribing an anxiety medication to help relax you. Sometimes getting in the door is the hardest part, and the medicine makes that easier.

  1. Bring Distractions or a Friend

Distractions are a favored way of dealing with anxiety or distressing emotions because, well, it works! Taking your mind off the triggering event or moment can help you work through your fear and maintain a level of calmness during a frightening situation.

Patients with anxiety are encouraged to bring distractions with them, such as a hair tie or fidget toy to play with or a stress ball to squeeze. Ask your dentist if you can wear headphones during your appointment or have a friend come into the room with you. You can play calming music or talk to your friend when you feel upset. If the treatment room is not big enough for a friend, your dentist and hygienist are probably good talking buddies, too! 

Consider also bringing comforting items such as a small stuffed animal, a soft hoodie, or your favorite book! These can remind you that you are not alone or be a reward for yourself when the visit is over.

  1. Practice Mindfulness Breathing Exercises Before and During a Visit

Mindfulness is the practice of sitting with feelings that make us feel uncomfortable, such as anxiety, and trying to be okay with them. One way to do this is to regulate your breathing. Try finding a window or another rectangle item and allow your eyes to trace the shape’s edges. Breathe out on the long edges and in on the short edges. You can also breathe in and out at four counts each. Do either exercise a few times. If you do not feel calmer, try a distraction technique or ask your dentist for a break so you can try to calm down. Before your visit, consider downloading a calming app to your phone to help you while you’re in the office.

Remember, you don’t have to “stick it out”! If one thing isn’t working, talk to your dentist about trying something else. 

Top 3 Ways To Help With Dental Anxiety

Thinking About Letting Caring Family Dentistry Care For You?

The more you are exposed to and know about the dentist, the less fearful you are likely to feel over time. Each time you successfully make it through those doors, you are one day closer to feeling confident and comfortable in the dentist’s chair. 

Caring Family Dentistry wants our office to be as welcoming and comfortable as possible to encourage you to feel at ease. This allows us to provide exceptional care, quality of life, and oral hygiene education everyone deserves.
Our staff takes pride in helping patients improve their relationship with the dentist so that they may obtain stress-free oral healthcare. To learn more about Caring Family Dentistry, get more dentophobia tips, or schedule an appointment, don’t hesitate to contact us! Our experienced and skilled staff look forward to Caring for you at Caring Family Dentistry.