According to some recent studies, between 5 and 8% of Americans completely avoid dentists due to fear and anxiety. Another 20% will only go to the dentist when it is absolutely necessary. Some other estimates say that as many as 75% of U.S. adults experience some kind of anxiety, even if it doesn’t interfere with getting a treatment.
The point is you’re not alone. A lot of people are nervous about the dentist, even if they don’t let it show. However, the more important point is that there are far too many people out there who are allowing their anxieties to interfere with their necessary dental care.
There are several ways you can ease those anxieties and find the determination to make it into the office and get the dental care you need.
Start at the Source
Sometimes, in order to overcome your fears, it’s necessary to look at your situation and try to understand where it is really coming from.
Most people assume that it is the fear of pain that keeps a person from setting an appointment, but that’s not necessarily true. For some people, it’s the loss of control they feel that makes them uncomfortable. It could be the fear of needles, the sense of claustrophobia as one or more people lean in over you, the fear of anesthetic, or the embarrassment that comes from letting people see their decayed teeth.
How to Beat the Fear
- Talk about your concerns
We can’t help if we don’t know what you’re experiencing. Talk to us about your anxiety and we’ll be able to address your specific concerns and provide a more comfortable experience.
- Set an early appointment
Make your appointment as early in the day as possible so that the first thing you do is take care of your dental health. You won’t have time to let the doubts and worries build up.
- Bring your own moral support
Sometimes you just need to have someone with you who you know and trust. That kind of support can make a huge difference.
- Take a look around the office
Make a special appointment just to come in and get a feel for the office. Take a look at our waiting room, tools, and dental chair. Just make yourself familiar with the place so it won’t seem as strange when you come in for a treatment.
- Consider sedation dentistry
Sedation dentistry is a simple and effective way to relax and remain calm throughout the entire procedure.
- Try relaxation techniques
Deep breathing, meditation, and positive imagery are effective ways to remain calm and face your anxieties.
- Take a break if you need one
It’s okay to take a break in the middle of a treatment (generally speaking). Sometimes you just need a moment to pull yourself back together and get ready for the second part of the treatment.
Is This You?
Some people will deny that they have a fear of the dentist, and, as such, they will shrug it off and won’t get the help they need. Other people might not even realize that the reason they haven’t made it to the dentist this year is because of an unconscious anxiety.
Assess your own situation by asking yourself a few questions:
- Do you get nervous in the waiting room?
- Do you feel ill just thinking about the drill or hearing the sound of it at work?
- Do you have trouble sleeping the night before an appointment?
- Do you have a hard time breathing when dental tools are used on you?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may have some anxieties that need to be addressed. When you know that you have some concerns – and why you have those concerns – you’ll be able to choose the best method that will help you overcome your dental anxiety.