If you've spent years avoiding the dentist because of severe dental anxiety, likely, your teeth have suffered too. Avoiding the dentist's office doesn't do anything positive for your teeth, and skipping routine cleanings and exams will only lead to missed opportunities for the dentist to catch issues while they're still minor and inexpensive to treat.
Read on to learn how to make 2022 the year that you finally move past your dental anxiety.
Dental anxiety is more than just feeling nervous on the day of your dental exam. If you're scared of the dentist's office, you're less likely to schedule regular appointments for cleanings and exams. And this can add up to cavities, gingivitis, and other problems not being diagnosed while still in their infancy.
Each person's anxiety is personal and unique to their past experiences, but some universal factors tend to cause a build-up of fear, especially when it comes to the dentist. The top contributing factors to one's dental anxiety are the following.
Often during childhood, an uncomfortable dental exam or procedure that caused you pain and discomfort in the past suppresses itself into your memory. Every time you find yourself walking through the doors of a dentist's office, it can bring back feelings of unpleasant smells, sounds, and unexpected pain. These negative experiences can linger with a patient for years and prevent them from feeling good about future care.
Receiving dental care puts you in a unique position. Your face is incredibly close to the dentist and hygienist, and having someone peering into your mouth spouting out numbers and dental terms can be a bit uncomfortable. This feeling can be especially tough on anyone who finds social situations difficult.
Many patients with dental anxiety procrastinate with their exams, sometimes taking breaks between appointments. They can be very self-conscious about dental problems that they may have developed during this time and uncomfortable showing their teeth and gums to someone. If you had many cavities as a young child and have many old silver fillings in your teeth, this can also make people feel embarrassed, uncomfortable, or vulnerable.
The issue of not knowing exactly what's going to happen and what you can expect when you visit the dentist can leave anyone feeling very anxious - especially when your checkbook is attached to that unknown.
It's entirely possible to move past your phobia and into the direction of healthy dental exams and cleanings.
Our top recommendations for getting over your dental anxiety are to:
Schedule an exam ASAP. If you have severe dental anxiety, it's probably been more than six months since you last had your teeth cleaned and examined. Getting back on a regular exam schedule will help improve your anxiety by getting accustomed to sights and sounds with the dentist and likely avoiding severe dental problems because you will be receiving preventative care and catching issues. At the same time, they are still minor and inexpensive, making treatments less painful in more ways than one.
Be open with your dentist. Once we know that you're feeling nervous, we can help talk you through your appointment. We cannot always see when a patient is uneasy, so please be direct to help make you comfortable.
Book a morning appointment. Schedule the first appointment of the day so it's not looming over you.
Ask for dental sedation. Nitrous is easy to receive and helps to keep you feeling calm while preventing the body from triggering anxiety responses. A little inhale through a small mask over your nose with no needles involved could be a great solution.
Listen to music. Bringing headphones and listening to something soothing during your appointment can help you feel relaxed and cancel out some of the dentist's office noise.
Find a dentist that you love. If you're not comfortable with your dentist, find a new one! Look for a provider that makes you feel listened to and cared for when it comes to your comfort and state of relaxation.
Tompkins Dental is here to help you overcome your dental anxiety in 2022! Contact us today to schedule an appointment and be one step closer to anxiety-free dentistry.