Dental anxiety is the fear or discomfort one feels about going to the dentist. Some people are fortunate enough to have zero anxiety about visiting the dentist. However, many other patients are not so lucky. According to a study done by the National Institute of Health (NIH), at least 36% of the population suffers from dental anxiety. An additional 12% experience extreme dental fear.
Going to the dentist should feel like a regular errand. You shouldn’t have to suffer over the idea of a dentist caring for your teeth. If you have dental anxiety, you should talk to your dentist to cover your potential options. Your dentist can provide you with several ways to make it through your appointments. Additionally, there are other methods you can use to decrease your anxiety.
Talk to Your Dentist
One of the best ways that you can combat dental anxiety is by talking to your dentist. They can help you get to the bottom of what is causing your fears and provide you with the best options.
A common reason for dental fear is not knowing what will happen during a procedure. If you make your dentist aware of this, they can walk you through the process step-by-step. If this is not enough, you can request that your dentist tell you what they are doing as they perform the procedure. For example, if you are getting a dental cleaning, your dentist would explain to you which tools they are using, how they are using them, and when they will move from one step to the next.
Your dentist may be able to provide you with sedation to get through your procedure calmly. Oral conscious sedation and nitrous oxide are common forms of sedation that a dentist will give their patients. In addition, a dentist can administer nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas,” right before your appointment.
You will feel an instant relaxing effect that will wear off as soon as your dentist reverses the medication. You can take oral conscious sedation in pill form before arriving at your appointment, ensuring an anxiety-free state before your procedure.
Bring a Friend
You may also consider bringing a trusted friend to help you through your appointment. Never underestimate the power of a comforting hand to hold. Sometimes, just someone there to support you can get you through your procedure without additional help.
If necessary, your trusted person can read to you while your dentist works. This will help distract you from what your dentist is doing so that you focus on the story.
Use a Distraction
Additionally, you can bring something to distract you during your procedure. For example, you could listen to a calming meditation podcast to relax. Alternatively, you may consider an audiobook if you would prefer to follow a plot. You might be a person who would rather listen to a true crime podcast. You should do whatever will help you get to your appointment and make it through your dental procedure.