Even though dentistry today is virtually painless, many people still experience dental anxiety. There are several causes of dental anxiety, including past painful experiences during childhood dental visits or parents threatening a dental visit if children don’t brush their teeth. This triggered-fear-response makes the idea of going to the dentist unpleasant, but with so many advances in dentistry and a focus on keeping patients comfortable, there’s no need to feel anxious anymore.
Modern dental advances help reduce dental anxiety
Dental tools, treatments, and procedures have evolved positively over the last few decades. The needles used to inject numbing agents are much thinner than in the past and are disposable to be more hygienic. Improved tools and methods of delivering numbing agents also reduce the pressure and discomfort on the gums during injection. There are new products and medications that reduce pain such as dental patches and topical anesthetic gels that numb the gums so patients feel more comfortable during deep cleanings and injections.
Dealing with dental anxiety
One of the best ways to deal with dental anxiety is to remember that under the white coat, your dentist is just a normal person and not someone to fear. If your dentist isn’t open to working with you to overcome your dental anxiety, then it’s time to find a new dentist. Additional tips to deal with dental anxiety include:
Communication helps reduce dental anxiety
Discuss your concerns with your dental professional and ask them questions. A great dentist starts a visit by asking you what bothers you the most and makes you anxious so they can work around any issues. Explain to your dentist any past problems you’ve had during dental visits and ask them in advance what they’ll be doing during your treatment. Establish a cue like raising your hand that alerts your dentist in the event of any discomfort so they can stop. Once you know what’s going to happen, you should feel less anxious and nervous. To improve the calming atmosphere in the room, ask if it’s possible to have a pleasant, familiar scent in the room from an aromatherapy device. If there’s a radio in the room, ask about having it set to your favorite type of station so you can focus on the music during the visit.
Music or audio books help reduce dental anxiety
Establish a calm feeling before your exam even begins by listening to music or audiobooks on your Mp3 player in the waiting room. Don’t arrive too early to the visit, because the longer you sit, the more anxious you may feel—just make sure you arrive on time. As you listen to your favorite music, podcast or audiobook, focus on relaxing your breathing and concentrate on activities you enjoy to maintain a sense of calmness.
Positive surroundings help reduce dental anxiety
It’s common today for dental offices to have televisions and mp3 players available in their rooms for patients to use. Ask to watch your favorite channel or find a program that will distract you during your visit by putting your focus and mind somewhere else. Even dental offices without televisions usually have pleasing décor in the room such as inviting wall colors, pleasing pictures on the walls and ceiling, or fresh flowers.
Sedation dentistry when the above tips don’t eliminate enough of your dental anxiety
When the above dental anxiety coping techniques aren’t sufficient to calm you during your visit, ask about sedation dentistry. Sedation dentistry options include nitrous oxide/laughing gas, oral sedatives, and intravenous conscious sedation, all of which enable you to interact with the dentist while feeling relaxed and comfortable.
At Dupont Dental, your comfort is important to us and we want to ensure you have an anxiety-free visit. Schedule your appointment today and let us know how we can make your experience a truly positive one.