According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, fear and anxiety are major contributors toward people steering clear of their dentist. When you have anxiety regarding the dentist, whether for a checkup or for a specific procedure, this is called dental anxiety.
Dental health is a worldwide issue even in countries like Germany, England and the United States. Important issues causing trouble are lack of insurance, less access to dental care, expensive treatment costs and fear of the dental office and the procedures performed there. In the U.S., one-third of all Americans delay going to appointments because of fear and dental anxiety.
In a global survey of 18,000 people, a research group found that more than 60% of those questioned were afraid of going to the dentist with 4% of them never having made a visit. Most are afraid of pain. Others are put off by the smell or drill sounds. Whatever the cause of dental anxiety, there are ways to overcome it.
Talk to your dentist
Before an appointment, sit down with your dentist and talk about the anxiety you are feeling. Sometimes just talking about it and having the dentist explain exactly what will happen at the appointment will be helpful. Your dentist will have experience in dealing with patients who are anxious and can give you good suggestions to work toward attending regular dentist check-ups.
Discuss specific concerns
You may have specific concerns to discuss with your dentist or his staff. One of those may be issues with pain. Not everyone has the same tolerance for pain. Discuss options for treatment that can lessen pain depending on the procedure even if it is just a routine cleaning.
Use a sign
An easy remedy for mild anxiety is creating a sign that you agree upon with the dentist and his staff before treatment. You will use the sign when you need a break or become too anxious. You might consider raising your hand or tapping the chair when you need a break. The dentist will be happy to accommodate you especially if it helps you to feel more comfortable.
Bring headphones to your appointment in order to listen to music, a podcast or a book. This will help block out sounds and the environment of the office often lessening anxiety. You could bring a fidget spinner, a stress ball or something else you prefer to hold onto or fiddle with during the procedure. Distraction is a great way to calm the anxiety you are feeling.
Try relaxation techniques
There are a number of exercises used to treat anxiety. Deep breathing can be relaxing. One technique is to inhale while counting and then exhale while counting. Focus your mind on the breathing technique rather than the anxiety. You can also use relaxation techniques like tensing your muscles, beginning with your toes and then relaxing them. You can do this all the way up your body. This allows you to focus and occupy your mind and possibly finding the source of where you may be holding tension in your body.
Ask a friend to help
Enlist a friend to go with you to the dentist giving you encouragement to keep the appointment. Some dentists may allow your friend to talk during the appointment in order to distract you. Plan a fun outing afterwards as a reward for making it through your visit despite the anxiety you were feeling.
It is worth the effort
It is important to work to overcome dental anxiety for your overall health. Research has shown that visits to the dentist can be a lifesaver. When you keep your six month regular check up, your teeth are cleaned as well as inspected for issues. Tooth decay and gum disease have been linked to other health problems like stroke and heart attack. It is incredibly important to begin treating teeth and gum issues early to maintain your overall health.
For the best oral health, you should brush and floss your teeth twice a day keeping decay and disease away. Go ahead and use some of the tips listed to work at overcoming your anxiety and make a move toward healthy teeth and gums along with a confident smile!