Dental fear is one of the most common phobias in the United States. Dental fear is often rooted in childhood, where dental visits often involve painful procedures or harsh treatments. Dental anxiety is relatively common, but dental phobia is when the fear becomes irrational or overwhelming. Dental phobia can cause patients to avoid the dentist, causing oral health issues to worsen. This blog, with a few helpful tips, can help ease your dental fear.
Speak up about your fears
Even the most experienced dentist has patients come to an appointment filled with anxiety or fear. If you are afraid of the dentist, you should let your dentist know right away. During your visit, your dentist is trained to help you feel comfortable and at ease by providing you with information before and during the appointment, like which tools are going to be used or how treatments will be administered. If you or your children are nervous about a procedure, discuss options for pain relief with your dentist ahead of time. Some dentists offer nitrous oxide gas for procedures that are mildly uncomfortable, while others can offer medication such as an oral sedative to take the night before your appointment. Your dentist can also offer you post-procedure instructions to ease the pain you’re likely to experience afterward. Post-op instructions might include using ice packs on tender areas and taking pain relievers. Don’t hesitate to ask your dentist any questions you have before coming in for a procedure. The more you know about what’s involved and how your dentist can help you achieve your best smile, the less anxious you’ll feel.
Agree on a signal
Talk to your dentist about your fears and anxieties; he or she is probably used to hearing them and should be able to work with you to find a signal to use when you need a break or reassurance. A raised hand may be all you need to say, “I need a break.” Your dentist will be able to discuss the best options for your care.
Take a trusted person with you
It can be stressful to go alone to an appointment where you’re not in control. Most people have a friend or family member who accompanies them to their dental appointments. This person can help hold your hand or hand you a tissue when you’re nervous, and they can even drive you home afterward if you’ve had oral surgery. Of course, you don’t have to bring someone with you to your every visit; just having the comfort of knowing someone is nearby can be enough to ease your anxiety.
Bringing something to distract you during your appointment can help pass the time more quickly. Ask your dental care team for something that can help you relax or keep you busy while your procedure is underway. They may be able to recommend headphones with music or noise-canceling earbuds. Some offices have TVs and DVD players in the treatment room to help you relax and stay distracted from what’s going on around you. You can also bring a book to read, a tablet to play distracting games on, or anything else that helps you stay calm and relaxed during treatment.
Ask for sedation
If you have dental fear, sedation dentistry can help you. If your dentist recommends oral conscious sedation, you may be able to take a sedative the night before your appointment and then just have a numbing medication for your procedure the next day. You won’t feel any pain or anxiety during your treatment thanks to these medications. Your dentist will give you instructions on how to take the prescribed medications prior to coming in for treatment. This will ensure you are comfortable and safe throughout your procedure.
To learn more, visit Bruce R. Clark, DDS, MAGD, 2550 Stover St E-102, Fort Collins, CO 80525. Call us at ( 970 ) 498 8607 to book an appointment.