A study published by the National Library of Medicine says that “Dental anxiety, or dental fear, is estimated to affect 36% of the population, with a further 12% suffering from extreme dental fear.” Other estimates show that over 80% of people don’t enjoy going to the dentist. There are two important things to take away from those facts.
- First, if visiting the dentist causes you stress, you are not alone.
- Second, because so many feel some form of dental anxiety, dentists know about the problem and can offer you ways to deal with your feelings and make your time in the dental chair a much more positive experience. Let’s take a look at some solutions:
1. Understand Your Procedure
Many patients are not sure what to expect during a dental exam, let alone a procedure such as a tooth extraction. Here are some tips for learning what’s going on:
● Understanding the different pieces of equipment. A dentist uses many different tools to examine, clean, and operate on teeth. An anxious imagination may quickly transforms these tools into an array of torture devices. In reality, every instrument is designed to cause the least discomfort possible. The dentist will be more than happy to explain what each tool does during a visit. .
● Do some research before visiting the dentist. Find out how long your procedure will take, what the after-effects might feel like, and what you can do to have the best experience as a patient. The fact you are reading this means you’re already doing great research.
● Talk to your friends about what they know. Everyone has to visit the dentist. Talk to your friends about their last appointment, which dentist they go to, and what to expect while there.
2. Do not Bottle it Up
When you set a dentist appointment, let the receptionist know you feel increased anxiety when visiting the dentist. This sentence can be awkward to say out loud. Here are some ideas to help start this conversation: “In the past, I’ve had experiences that make me nervous when visiting the dentist.” “I know it is a safe environment, but I still get stressed when I visit the dentist. I thought I should let you know in advance.” “Do you have any recommendations for patients with dental anxiety? It’s something I deal with.” “It might be helpful for you to know I have a hard time visiting the dentist. It stresses me out.” Remember that a lot of people struggle with dental anxiety. You’re not unusual, and it’s not a sign of weakness. You show your strength when you express your fears.
3. Go with a Friend
Bringing a friend along can transform the experience of visiting the dentist. A buddy or spouse will provide:
- A welcome distraction
- Someone to talk through your fears with
- A friendly face among strangers
Make the day an enjoyable outing by tying in a fun leisure activity. It might become a tradition that ends up bringing you closer together.
4. Focus on the Outcome
Take a minute and imagine the feeling of having perfectly clean teeth and a flashy white smile. Imagine eating ice cream 100% pain-free or confidently smiling for family photos. Imagine completing the yellow teeth check filter on TikTok without a hint of embarrassment. Okay, maybe TikTok isn’t your primary motivator, but still, the outcomes of dental visits can be positive and empowering.
5. Agree on a Signal
Some patients feel claustrophobic because they are unable to communicate how they feel during a dental exam. The most many patients can manage orally with their mouths wide open is a “yes” or “no” that sounds uncannily like an orc from Lord of the Rings. This isn’t a happy space to be in when you’re feeling stressed out. To overcome this stuck feeling, decide on a signal with the dentist before they start the exam. Some common ideas include:
- Raising your hand
- Tapping on the dental chair
- An uncomplicated and specific voice command (such as a grunt or yawn)
Periodic breaks during an exam can make a world of difference. If something is particularly uncomfortable or triggering, a break will allow you to explain this to the dentist.
6. Plan Ahead
The biggest barrier to overcome for many people is getting an appointment booked. It’s so easy to procrastinate or forget entirely. The best way to keep regular appointments is to set the next one during your check-up. Get it on the calendar, and then you don’t have to worry about it until the day of your appointment.
7. Choose the Right Dental Office
Nailing this tip alone might make the most significant difference in your dental experience. Choose a dental office with a zero judgment environment. Do they care about you as a person or just another business opportunity? Notice whether they take the time to get to know you and what you need to feel comfortable visiting their office. Maybe your last dentist left you with a sour taste in your mouth. Maybe you haven’t been to a dentist for a while. Maybe you get anxious visiting the dentist. If any of those descriptions apply to your situation, it may be tempting to avoid the dentist. However, your oral care is important. Instead, find a caring complete care dentist in the Atlanta area willing and able to meet you where you are at and start making the dentist a positive experience for you.