We know that a trip to the dentist isn’t on anyone’s list of favorite things, but if you find yourself avoiding regular dental visits or putting off needed dental work, you might be one of the estimated 50-80% of adults with dental anxiety.
Our team understands that while a procedure might be “routine” for us, it likely is not for our patients. That’s why we work hard to make sure patients are informed and comfortable at every touchpoint. We believe that though patients may not look forward to the procedure itself, the experience doesn’t have to be frightening or uncomfortable.
1. Be open with your dental team
One of the most important factors in overcoming dental anxiety is good communication between you and your dentist. When you feel informed and in control throughout a visit, you’re less likely to be anxious. Don’t be afraid to share your feelings! Communication is a two-way street, and just as it’s up to our team to ensure patients have all the information they need, the reverse is just as imperative. It’s vital that patients take an active role in sharing information, as well as concerns. We want you to let us know if you feel uneasy. Our team will do everything feasible to make your experience as stress-free as possible, but your willingness to share concerns is essential.
2. Identify the source of your anxiety
Chances are, you have one or more specific “triggers” that make you nervous when you go to the dentist. Some of the most common anxiety triggers include:
- The sight and sound of a dental office
- The vibration and sound of dental drills
- Needles, such as those used to deliver oral anesthetic
- Fear of pain and discomfort
- Feeling a lack of control during your procedure
- Embarrassment or fear that your dentist will judge you for having unhealthy teeth/gums
Understanding the source of your anxiety is the first step toward overcoming it. If you know what makes you uncomfortable and nervous, you’ll be better able to find ways to address your anxiety. For example, if the sound of the equipment makes you queasy, try using headphones to listen to your favorite music.
3. Reward yourself
If you need extra incentive to get into the dentist’s chair, consider rewarding yourself after your visit. Whether it’s splurging on a new pair of shoes or giving yourself permission to binge watch Netflix, a set reward gives you something to look forward to after your appointment. After all, there’s a reason kids get to choose a prize at the end of their visit!
4. Use hand signals
Talk to your dentist before sitting in the dental chair. Ask what you should anticipate – will it feel like a mosquito bite or just generalized pressure? Once you know what to expect, empower yourself by agreeing on hand signals to communicate with your dentist. When you feel uncomfortable, signal the dentist to ease off or stop the procedure. Knowing that you are in control at all times can alleviate the fear of the unknown.
5. Set yourself up for success
Select a time for your dental visit when you’re less likely to be rushed or under pressure. This might mean scheduling an appointment first thing in the morning or on your day off. It’s also best to avoid caffeine and sugary foods before seeing your dentist, as these can increase anxiety. Instead, try eating high-protein foods which tend to produce a calming effect.
Quality patient care has always been at the heart of our practice. If you’re concerned, worried, or fearful of the dentist, our team is here to help. Take the first step by contacting our dental office.