Did you know that 9-15% of Americans avoid the dentist out of fear? If you have dental anxiety and phobia, you’re not alone! Unfortunately, though, this fear of the dentist can have serious health repercussions, as the dentist helps you to prevent gum disease, tooth decay, severe damage, infection, and more. We completely understand that dental phobia can cause severe emotional distress, and we want to help you in any way we can. Here are just a few steps that we recommend you take to overcome your fear of the dentist.
1. Talk to your dentist!
Communication is key. We highly recommend discussing your feelings of concern and fear with your dentist. This will ultimately help your dentist decide the best way to treat you. In many cases, dentists can provide you with nonverbal cues and signals that will allow you to take breaks and regain some control during treatment. They also may be able to administer anesthesia should the circumstances be appropriate. Nitrous oxide (also known as “laughing gas”) is often used for patients who are particularly stressed during dental procedures.
2. Distract yourself.
We understand that the sound of the drill can be unnerving—sometimes distracting yourself can be the best solution! We encourage you to listen to music, podcasts, or even TV shows throughout your appointment. By diverting your attention away from the procedure, you may find that the appointment can be a bit less stressful.
3. Try relaxation techniques.
Sometimes even the smallest actions can make a big difference in easing the stress of your dentist appointment. Try focusing on your breathing or mindfully relaxing each individual muscle group in turn. Picture yourself in a soothing place or scenario. You might also consider bringing a stress ball. There are a number of techniques you can try to lessen your anxiety throughout your appointment.
4. Bring a companion to your appointment.
Perhaps you would prefer to bring a friend or family member to your appointment. Having an extra level of support can help keep you calm during your dental procedure. Just be certain to bring someone who does not also fear the dentist, otherwise you might risk increasing your apprehensions rather than diminishing them.
5. Reward Yourself.
Plan something nice for yourself immediately after the appointment, such as a fun getaway or a small present! By creating a good association with dental appointments, you may gradually shift your mindset about the process overall.
If you are overcome or debilitated by these feelings of anxiety, know that mental health professionals can be hugely helpful in dealing with phobias of any kind. Therefore, be certain to contact a mental health professional if you have symptoms such as physical illness, loss of sleep, or severe anxiety surrounding your dentist appointments.
If you have any questions about how we can help you with your dental anxiety, call our Vernon Hills office today. Metro Square Dental Associates is committed to making sure your dental appointments are as comfortable and stress-free as possible.