Many people avoid getting appropriate dental care because they're afraid of the dentist or ashamed at the current state of their teeth. Both adults and children can have some apprehension about going to the dentist, but that doesn't mean you can just avoid it. You’re not alone, and there are many common causes and techniques to overcome your anxiety.
Dental Anxiety: It's a Real Thing
Both dental anxiety and dental phobia affect many children and adults. It's easy to see why. Most people aren't going to the dentist for fun. Pain, fear of injections, and general embarrassment over your teeth can all produce anxiety in even the most prepared people. The important thing is to recognize that these fears are quite common, and dentists encounter them all the time.
Though dental anxiety may be an internal fear, it certainly isn't all in your head. Anxiety leads to a faster pulse, difficulty breathing, muscle tension, and many other physical symptoms. While it's important to deal with your dental anxiety, it's also important to understand that it's a real issue, and your feelings are valid.
Coping with Dental Anxiety
With that being said, it does have to be subdued and subverted. It's important for everyone to get quality dental care to eliminate pain and make sure that other serious health issues don't arise. Many tried-and-true techniques for general anxiety can also help you deal with dental anxiety.
- Voice your fears. Vocally addressing your fears or journaling can help you recognize what you're afraid of. By exploring your fears, you may find that they become less concerning.
- Find a good dentist. Some dentists are better than others at calming patients down. You may need to find a dentist with an office that has a lot of distractions (such as television and music), or just find a dentist who is exceptionally patient.
- Take someone with you. A friend or a family member can help calm you, whether by joking around with you or just providing a reassuring presence. Make sure to take someone with you who doesn't have their own dental fears!
- Practice mindfulness. As you feel yourself becoming anxious, counter your dental anxiety by breathing slowly and focusing on what's around you. Often, if you counter the physical impact of anxiety (such as rapid breathing), you can reduce it.
- Listen to music. On your smartphone or tablet, you can bring music and shows with you, which will distract you from the sound and the experience of dental tools. Some dental offices already have televisions available where you can watch them so you don't need to concentrate on the procedure.
- Consult your dentist. Every day, dentists help patients of all ages affected by dental anxiety. Address your fears or hesitations, and they can give you all of the information you need about tools and safety procedures in place to ensure your experience is pleasant.
You may need to try a few things or a combination of things before you calm your nerves completely. If you find that you simply cannot calm down and you're still experiencing high anxiety (or even anxiety attacks), you may have a legitimate dental phobia rather than just generalized dental anxiety.
Dealing with a Dental Phobia
A dental phobia is far more serious than regular dental anxiety. When a fear has become so significant, it has began impacting your life and health. If you have a serious dental phobia, you may also want to consider talking to a general doctor about your high anxiety levels.
Your dentist can work with you to make sure that you're comfortable, and it's possible that you may need to work with multiple dentists before you find one that you're comfortable with.
Dealing with dental anxiety and dental phobia isn't easy, but it's necessary. There are many things people don’t know about dental checkups that make them critical to maintain your overall health. If you haven't been to the dentist in a while or are afraid of going to the dentist, the time to reach out for help is now. Contact the friendly specialists at Dynamic Dental for a consultation today.