If you experience anxiety when visiting the dentist or are so afraid to visit the dentist that you avoid dental appointments altogether, then you are not alone. In fact, dental anxiety and dentophobia prevent a surprising number of people from accessing the dental care they need to stay healthy.
Skipping out on professional dental cleanings and examinations puts the health of your teeth and gums at risk, in addition to the overall health of your body, as many oral health problems can harm your systemic health too. Unfortunately, neglecting professional preventative dental care and avoiding the dentist can also often lead to the development of dental problems that might require more extensive treatment.
If you suffer from dental anxiety or have a dental phobia, we strongly encourage you to talk with a dentist about your concerns and to consider the following tips that can help you to overcome your fears so you can relax in the dental chair.
7 Tips for Overcoming Dental Anxiety
1. Schedule an Introductory Appointment
During this appointment, we can talk with you about what to expect during your actual dental exam, make a plan for your care that feels comfortable to you, and help you reduce your anxiety when you come in for your dental treatments.
2. Talk With the Dentist About Your Fears
Whether you schedule a meet-and-greet appointment or not, it’s always a good idea to let your dentist and dental care team know that you suffer from dental anxiety. This way, we can adjust your treatments to meet your needs, talk with you about additional options to help you with your anxiety, and we also will be sure to take extra care during your treatments to ensure you are comfortable at all times.
3. Avoid Other Stress-Inducers
If you have other things in your life causing you stress and anxiety when you’re scheduled for a dental exam, then this can exacerbate the feelings, making your dental care experience seem even more stressful.
Schedule your dental appointment for a low-stress time of the week and day when you know that you will not be experiencing stress or anxiety as a result of anything else that is going on in your life. We can work with your schedule to help you find an ideal appointment time when you will have the time and space in your life to focus on going to the dentist and staying calm while you are there.
4. Avoid Caffeine
While it might help you wake up in the morning, caffeine is a stimulant that can cause a physical response that mimics feelings of anxiety. So, drinking caffeine can make you feel even more anxious about visiting the dentist.
If you have a dental appointment scheduled, we recommend skipping your morning cup of coffee or choosing to drink decaffeinated coffee or tea instead.
5. Use Other Forms of Communication
Some patients experience dental anxiety because they do not like the feeling of not being able to communicate and be in control while they are in the dental chair.
If you think this might be true for you or that being better able to communicate during your treatment might help calm your anxiety, we can talk with you about a system of hand signals that you can use during treatment. This way you can clearly alert the dentist if you experience any pain or discomfort or simply need to take a break from your treatment.
6. Relax With Music or a Meditation
We always welcome our patients to wear headphones during their dental treatments. This can help you relax in two ways: by blocking out the unfamiliar sounds of the dental office and by diverting your focus to whatever you might be listening to. Some patients prefer to bring in calming music, a guided meditation, or an audiobook or podcast to enjoy during their appointment.
7. Ask About Sedation Dentistry
If you continue to struggle with dental anxiety or a dental phobia, there are several sedation dentistry options available that take a pharmaceutical approach to helping patients stay calm at the dentist’s office.
These range from light sedation that’s administered in the office with nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and moderate sedation that uses an oral sedative taken at home before your appointment to complete sedation with general anesthesia.
Our dentists can help you determine the degree of sedation dentistry that is most appropriate for you depending on your level of anxiety and the extent (length and invasiveness) of your upcoming dental procedure.
It’s important to note, however, that sedation dentistry does typically require a patient to arrange transportation to and from their appointments for safety.
Sedation Dentistry Appointments at Goochland Dentistry
At Goochland Dentistry, we’re fully committed to helping all of our patients overcome their dental-related anxiety to access the dental care they need to keep their teeth, gums, and bodies healthy. To learn more about sedation dentistry and more accommodations we can make to help you feel comfortable and relaxed when visiting the dentist, we encourage you to contact us.