Studies have shown that nearly 36% of people have dental anxiety — a fear of going to the dentist. Even further, 12% have “extreme dental fear”, making it quite hard for them to work up the nerve to go each time.
Perhaps they’re worried about getting harmed at the dentist. After all, the mouth is a sensitive area.
Others may have not gone in some time, and are worried they might find out they’ve developed oral health issues and are afraid to confront them.
So if you have a fear of visiting the dentist, just know you’re not alone. But the longer your wait to go to the dentist, the worse your oral health can get.
At Absolute Smile, we want you to be comfortable when getting dental care, so we’ve put together a list of some ways you can reduce or possibly cut out your dental anxiety.
Talk About It With Your Dentist
Talking about your feelings is one of the best ways to release some of that anxiety. Plus, dentists know that plenty of people get uncomfortable at the dentist — so talk with them about yours.
Make sure you remind the dentist and hygienist about your dental worries each time you’re there.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Dental professionals are happy to address any of your concerns.
Don’t Be Afraid to Interrupt
Patients may be hesitant to interrupt the dentist during a procedure for fear of annoying them, but dentists are there to make sure you’re comfortable.
Before beginning an exam, agree with your dentist on a signal — such as raising a hand — to indicate you need a quick break.
Also, don’t be afraid to let your dentist know if you’re feeling pain. They will adjust to minimize discomfort as much as possible.
Give Yourself Distractions
If you can take your mind off the procedure and your worries, things will proceed much more smoothly.
A common way many distract themselves in the dentist’s chair is by squeezing a stress ball. In fact, many dentists have these laying around for this very reason.
If you’re undergoing a procedure involving loud tools, such as a drill, you could ask the dentist if you can listen to something on your phone. Distract yourself from your favorite music, audiobook, or podcast. If the dentist has a TV, you could also request a channel and focus on a TV show.
Lastly, mindfulness techniques can distract you from the procedure and help you relax.
Try deep, slow breathing where you count your breaths anytime you feel the anxiety coming up. Do it before your procedure, and when you get breaks during the procedure.
Another mindfulness technique is called “progressive relaxation”. To do this, concentrate on relaxing each muscle in your body, one muscle at a time. Start with one end of your body and work your way to the other.
For example, you could start with your toes, and work your way up to your torso and arms, then your face and head. You could also go the opposite way.
At Absolute Smile, our goal is to make every single visit as comfortable and painless as possible. We understand that dental work can be anxiety-inducing. Our experts work with great care to minimize your dental anxiety while ensuring your mouth is clean and your smile is bright at the end of each appointment. Contact us today — if you’re a new patient, you get a free consultation.