Often described as the stress or fear of being in a dental setting, dental anxiety can prevent a person from getting the necessary dental treatment. People who have this type of anxiety may experience tachycardia or racing heartbeat, visible distress, sweating, syncope or fainting, and low blood pressure. This often leads to missed or canceled dental appointments.
Dental anxiety can be caused by many things. It can be due to traumatic dental or health experiences, previous head or neck trauma, trust issues, or generalized post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. This fear of being in a dental setting can affect people of any age, with adults found to remain anxious for longer than kids who received support during the visits. Have dental anxiety? Here are seven ways anxious patients can cope up.
- Find the right dental expert
Finding the right dentist or oral surgeon to attend to your needs can make all the difference. Not only will you feel more confident in sharing your experiences or fears, but you’re also certain you’ll get the best dental care you need. If you require more intense treatments or specialized cosmetic procedures, find a trusted and friendly oral surgeon whom you’re comfortable talking to.
Check if their staff is also caring and accommodating to clients and that the dental clinic or center is comfortable and relaxing. At the same time, they should be able to offer modern and personalized dental care and treatments. These are the signs you’re visiting the right dental expert.
- Let your dentist know
After finding the dentist you’re comfortable with, it’s time to speak up about your anxiety. Get that stress or worry off of your chest. During the appointment, tell the dentist and the staff that you’re nervous. You can also share experiences that cause your anxiety. Make sure to ask questions so that you are well-informed about what will happen, reducing your worries. Most dentists and their patients use hand signals if there’s a concern or problem while the treatment is ongoing.
In addition, don’t be embarrassed about your pain tolerance and tell your dentist if you’re still feeling pain even with a local anesthetic. Don’t hesitate to interrupt your dentist even during a dental procedure if you’re in pain or too uncomfortable.
- Use relaxing techniques
Before letting your fear overpower your emotions, take some time to ease your mind and body. A lot of patients find relaxation techniques to be effective for fighting off their dental anxiety. For one, you can do deep breathing exercises. You can count your breaths, then slowly inhale and exhale for the same counts. You can do this multiple times while waiting for your appointment.
Other relaxation methods you can try include daily mindful meditation, happy visualization, mantra crafting, guided imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation. These relaxation exercises are generally helpful for adjusting your heart rate in a highly positive state. Research also shows that listening to your favorite music can help lower anxiety rate,
- Try anti-anxiety medications
Aside from relaxation techniques, you can also consider taking anti-anxiety medications prescribed by a reputable dentist. This is usually recommended for people who experience intense anxiety. Ask your dentist if there are safe sedation techniques that you can try. Avoid taking medications not prescribed by your dentist. Doing so without professional consent can cause health complications, especially for people with other medical conditions.
Book a consultation so that you and your dentist can clearly discuss the customized dental plan and medications you can take. One common sedative technique used these days is nitrous oxide or laughing gas, which can help manage the patient’s anxiety.
- Visit a friend
Most of the time, the tension and fear we feel are due to feeling alone in a certain situation. If you’re nervous about visiting a dentist, take a family member or friend with you. Having someone to go with you can initially distract you from constantly thinking about the procedure until it’s your turn. Most dental clinics allow a person to sit with the patient during the treatment to help reduce anxiety or stress. Nonetheless, be sure to inform your dentist ahead of your appointment.
Kindly note that if you are experiencing more than just small fear or uneasiness when visiting a dental professional, there’s a chance you have dental phobia instead. This type of condition relates to irrational and intense fear, putting off oral appointments for several years. If you’re experiencing this high level of distress and avoidance, we highly suggest you consult both your primary physician and dentist for help.