Coming to the dental office is necessary for your health. Problems in your mouth not only affect your breath, they affect the rest of your body. Fear of the dentist is a normal and common fear. In fact, 5 to 8 percent avoid the dentist completely, while another 20 only come to the dentist when absolutely necessary(1). We see multiple patients every day who are afraid to come into the dental office, and almost everyone would rather be somewhere else.
Studies show that most dental fears stem from three different things: Loss of control, embarrassment, and pain (2). However, going to the dentist is vital to your health. So instead of just having a plan to fix your teeth, try to have a plan to help your anxiety(3). Here are a few things that you can use for your plan:
Talk to the staff and the dentist about your fear
Your dentist is there to help you and wants you to feel comfortable in their office. Telling the people in your dental office about your fears will help them be aware and they will try to accommodate you and your concerns.
Try to get appointments on days you won’t be rushed
This isn’t always possible, but getting an appointment during a time you don’t have to be somewhere else soon after can help ease your anxiety. It can just add stress when you have something you need to get to after your dental visits.
At times when your anxiety about what the doctor is doing in your mouth is giving you major anxiety, do something to take your mind off of what is happening. There are many different things you can do to distract yourself. A few ideas are:
Listening to something on your phone or iPod can help keep your focus elsewhere. You can center your mind to the lyrics and tune (At Gentle Care Dentistry & Implants we have headphones where you can listen to music on Pandora or watch Netflix).
-Focus on your breathing
When you are feeling a lot of anxiety you can sometimes hold your breath. Focusing on your breathing helps with keeping your mind busy while also keeps you breathing.
Counting can take your mind off of what is happening and could calm you down. Whether you count out of order, count to ten and start over, or count in patterns it doesn’t matter.
Having the dentist or their staff explain the procedures you need done and why can help. Understanding how it will help you and what is going to happen may help your fears. Knowledge is power.
Have a Signal
While communicating to the doctor about your anxiety, coming up with a signal for when it is getting out of control could be a good idea. The dentist will stop as soon as it is safe to do so, and will continue once you’ve had a chance to regain yourself.
Anxiety is real, but overcoming it is vital in all areas of your life, especially at the dental office. A healthy smile will help you have a healthy body! If you’d like to schedule an appointment call Gentle Care Dentistry & Implants at (520) 257-2749.