Conquer Your Dental Anxiety and Change Your Perspective on Dental Appointments
Does the idea of visiting a dentist send a shiver down your spine? If so, you’re certainly not alone. Dental anxiety is a very common problem faced by adults from all walks of life. Though minor dental anxiety isn’t usually a great concern, when fear prevents you from seeking out professional dental care, it’s time to regain control and conquer your anxiety so you can reap the benefits of a healthier smile.
Over half of adults experience some level of dental anxiety.
Surveys show that over 60% of adults experience some level of dental anxiety. Most cases anxiety stems from a fear of dental pain, followed by the smells of a dental office, the sound of the drill, and even worry over how high a dental bill may be.
Many adults with minor to moderate dental anxiety often still seek out professional dental help, but a small percentage are so nervous that they’ll avoid the dentist altogether.
Extreme dental anxiety could be dentophobia.
When dental anxiety grows from nervousness to very genuine fear, this is known as dentophobia or odontophobia. Dentophobia affects about 5% to 8% of adults. Seeking help for dentophobia is extremely important, as avoiding the dentist at all costs will eventually lead to oral health issues, even if you practice a thorough at-home dental care regimen.
Even dentophobia can be managed.
Conquering dental anxiety isn’t easy, but as you begin to face your fears, remind yourself that even severe dentophobia can be managed. In cases of very severe anxiety or dentophobia, you may reach out to a therapist or mental health professional for guidance.
Fill your toolbox with tips and techniques that work for you.
Dental anxiety affects different people in different ways, but many of these techniques and tips are effective for most people. Over time you’ll find that practicing these tips makes every future appointment just a bit easier.
Share your dental anxiety with your dental team.
Taking a moment to simply say “I have dental anxiety” and sharing what things make you nervous gives your dentist and staff a chance to do their best to make you comfortable. It may make you feel vulnerable at first, but rest assured that a trusted dental team is eager to help in any way they can.
Practice relaxing breathing techniques to help ease dental anxiety.
Deep-breathing techniques are highly effective at relieving stress and anxiety. YouTube is a great source for deep-breathing exercises that you can use to ease your nerves before your appointment and to relieve tension during your appointment.
Listen to music or a podcast.
Popping in some earbuds and listening to music is an old favorite but nevertheless a highly effective trick. You might also listen to a podcast or audiobook, perhaps something that’s comedic or lighthearted.
Schedule appointments during slow times.
Book your appointments earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon, depending on when your dental office is least busy. A busy office and packed waiting room can make even the most extroverted person feel anxious or nervous.
Plan something to look forward to later.
Scheduling lunch with a friend or buying yourself something special you’ve been wanting can help you get through an appointment. Over time you might even subconsciously associate dental appointments with positive experiences.
Ask for a quote before treatment begins.
If your dental anxiety revolves around finances, ask for a quote or estimate on cost before your dentist begins any sort of treatment. The majority of dental offices will happily oblige and even contact your insurance company to get the most accurate quote possible.
Give yourself credit for the progress you make against.
Acknowledge when you push back against your anxiety when visiting the dentist. Every step forward, no matter how small, is progress to be proud of. In fact, even the act of simply not taking a step backward is a reason to celebrate.
Remind yourself that you’re 100% in control at all times.
A common emotion that often fuels dental anxiety is the feeling of not having control. When you’re sitting in a dentist’s chair, it’s really easy to feel as though you’re powerless—and that can be an unnerving thought!
When you feel this way, it’s important to remind yourself that even though you may feel vulnerable, you’re actually in complete control of the situation. You can ask as many questions as you’d like, request that you’re informed of each step in treatment before it happens, and have the power to say “Stop!” as soon as you feel overwhelmed.
Feeling empowered is directly related to the dental team you choose to work with. Your ideal dentist should be one that you can trust to follow your requests and respect your journey through fighting dental anxiety.
Finding a dental team you can trust can make all the difference for dental anxiety.
Conquering your dental anxiety can be difficult or next to impossible if you don’t have the right dental team to help you on your journey.
A dentist that doesn’t match your personality may make you feel uncomfortable or rushed, fueling your anxiety rather than helping to extinguish it. On the other hand, a dentist that matches your personality can make you feel relaxed and confident, helping you to gradually get over your underlying dental anxiety or dentophobia.
Keep in mind that picking a dentist is a very personal thing. Even a highly skilled dental team that your friends or family love may simply not mesh well with your needs. Trust your gut and don’t be afraid to meet a few different dentists to find the one that makes you feel welcome and calm.
Come meet the Tory Hill Dental team and experience comfort-focused dental care.
Dr. Miedema and the rest of the team at Tory Hill Dental are eager to welcome you into their dental family. Dr. Miedema and his staff practice a comfort-focused approach to dental care, ensuring that each patient is as comfortable and relaxed as possible. They’re especially compassionate and gentle with patients who are recovering from dental anxiety and dentophobia. You can schedule your first appointment with Dr. Miedema by calling our Buxton office or filling out this online form.