woman with dental anxiety

How to Combat Dental Anxiety

Maintaining your oral health is important and includes making dentist appointments on a regular basis for exams and cleanings. Yet, dental anxiety can get in the way of this, causing you to procrastinate or even avoid the dental office altogether.

If this describes you, what you need is a way to combat that dental anxiety. A few changes in how you approach dental appointments can make all the difference and prevent you from neglecting that smile any longer.

Dental Anxiety Causes

You may already be aware of what is causing your dental anxiety. If not, consider which of the following may apply to you.

  • A negative dental experience in the past
  • Fear of pain induced by dental exams or procedures
  • Fear of shots and needles
  • An adverse reaction to the sounds of drills and other dental office equipment
  • Embarrassment surrounding the state of your current dental health
  • A feeling of loss of control or that the experience is an invasion of your personal space

Once you know what is holding you back, you can find ways to calm or alleviate your anxiety.

Ways to Combat Dental Anxiety

To prevent further problems with teeth and gums down the road, you’ll need to overcome your dental anxiety or at least find a way to deal with it. Here are ways to combat dental anxiety.

Talk with your dentist about your anxiety

Locate a dentist you feel comfortable with and schedule time to talk about your dental anxiety. Share any past experiences that haunt you. Express your fears and what it is about going to the dentist that makes you feel this way.

Be sure to ask as many questions as you like. Continue to ask these questions before each procedure you undergo. You should feel comfortable with the responses you receive from the dental team and begin to trust them more. While your anxiety may not entirely disappear, you now know that you can bring up the subject again at any point and the dental team will understand and listen.

Determine how you can distract yourself during dental appointments

Finding ways to distract yourself during dental appointments is beneficial in calming that anxiety. Find something unique to you that works and continue using it. Here are a few examples.

  • Listen to a podcast, audiobook, or your favorite music
  • Focus on a particular mantra or utilize other mindfulness practices
  • Visualize one of your favorite places, which may be the beach, the mountains, or your own backyard
  • Consider making lists in your head, such as how many states you’ve visited, the titles of books you’ve read so far this year, or whatever interests you
  • Use relaxation methods, like taking deep breaths and counting as you inhale and exhale.

Ask about modernized techniques and equipment

Sometimes, the more you know, the better you will feel. If your anxiety is due to the sound of drills and other equipment, ask if new technology is now available that helps to eliminate such sounds or discomfort. Dental technology today continues to advance and address these issues with the goal of enhancing the patient experience.

For example, if the thought of those uncomfortable mouth trays full of a putty-like substance used to make impressions gags you, your dentist may now offer a way to make more convenient digital impressions.

Here at South Dayton Smiles, we take digital impressions with a wand-like device to capture images inside your mouth, and these images show up on a nearby computer screen which we can share with you. Other technology used to make your experience better includes digital X-rays and the use of intraoral cameras. Such technology removes discomfort and speeds up the process.

Choose a signal for taking a break

One way to make you feel more in control of your experience is to choose a signal to let the dental team know you need a break. This signal can be holding up one finger or the palm of your hand. Just knowing you can have a minute to calm yourself or take a break can make a huge difference in how you imagine a procedure can go. Be sure to remind your dentist of the signal before each procedure.

Bring Someone Along with You to Your Appointment

Anxiety can increase as you drive to your appointment or sit in the waiting room before being called back. To help with this, bring someone along with you, such as a supportive family member or friend. Not only can they distract you, but you can also make plans for how to spend your time after the appointment as a sort of reward. This planning will give you something to look forward to while in the dentist’s chair.

Let South Dayton Smiles Help You Overcome Your Dental Anxiety

If dental anxiety is getting the better of you, let us help. Our team here at South Dayton Smiles understands your apprehensiveness and will work with you to find ways to combat that anxiety and maintain a healthy smile. Call our Miamisburg, Ohio office today at 937-576-8732 or send us a message through our online contact form.