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Tips to help you overcome dental anxiety

September 6, 2019

What is Dental Anxiety?

Unfortunately for many people, going to the dentist can be a stressful experience. Whether it’s a reluctance to have a bunch of metal tools jammed in your mouth or the fear of pain and pressure, you are not alone if you dread going to the dentist.

This apprehension about trips to the dentist’s office is so common it’s becoming colloquially known as dental anxiety. This phenomenon can be truly distressing for many people, to the extent that some individuals have admitted to postponing their dental examinations simply due to anxiety about the experience.

In order to help you avoid this kind of emotional turmoil when visiting your dental health professional, we’ve broken down the causes and possible solutions of dental anxiety below. 

What causes dental anxiety?

Some of the fear of being at the dentist is substantiated, as sometimes more invasive operations can result in pain or discomfort.

However, a good portion of dental anxiety stems from irrational worries about what might happen if something goes wrong.

In some cases, the source of stress might be a feeling of apprehension or fear towards your dentist themselves, accompanied by a worry that they will be negligent to your possible pain.

Whether it’s one, or a combination of these issues there are some solid steps you can take in order to confront and alleviate your stress at the dentist.

How to cope with dental anxiety

The number one thing you can do to reduce your dental anxiety is to speak with your dental healthcare professional. If your dentist is informed about the stress you may be experiencing during checkups, they can take extra care to avoid the specific triggers of your anxiety.

It might require a more gentle touch while examining your teeth or simply describing each step of an exam to you so you know what to expect, but a good dentist will always be happy to tend to your concerns or stress.

Never be afraid to ask your dentist about all the steps of a procedure, you have the right, as well as your healthcare professional has the responsibility to keep you informed.

If pain, or even the prospect of pain, is your primary concern, consider asking about extra medication. Dentists have been known to recommend anti-anxiety medication or nitrous oxide for considerably distressed patients.

While this shouldn’t necessarily be your first solution, it can help if you find yourself struggling.

Finally, engaging in activities that tend to relax you more generally, especially if done immediately prior to a dentist appointment, can make a huge difference. If you’re sitting in the waiting room, think about trying some casual breathing exercises or listening to calming music.

Even talking to the front desk staff can be helpful as they see all kinds of patients and procedures.

Most importantly, remind yourself that these are professionals with only your best interests and health in mind and that they will work with you to make your experience as effortless as possible.

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