Sweaty Palms, pounding heart, nausea, dizziness, dread, fear…. Sound familiar? Well, you are not alone! 35 million Americans experience the same thing when faced with going to see the dentist. Dental phobias are very common and extremely debilitating for some people. This type of phobia has many layers. The fear may not be of the dentist in general but of common procedures that occur at the dentist, such as: needles, drilling, and extensive, sometimes painful procedures.
Many local dentists are now offering services that cater to people that experience a high level of fear and anxiety during visits. These services are designed to make visiting the dentist a less stressful experience for the patient and the dentist.
Inhalation sedation and IV sedation are often employed when patients are extremely fearful or when they need to have a lengthy or painful procedure done. This allows for the patient to relax and rest peacefully while their dentist performs the procedure. New technology and gadgets have also helped dental phobics deal with their underlying fears, like the fear of needles. The Wand ( a computerized injection system that looks like a pen and delivers the anesthetic very slowly so it is painless), makes injections far less stressful . Improved dental tools that are quieter and offices that have a less “clinical” feel to them have also helped ease patients fear.
Along with these new advances there are other tips and tricks that may help make your visit to the dentist a more pleasant experience.
Talk to your dentist
Be up front and honest with your dentist about your fears. Letting your dentist know about your fear right away allows for open communication between you and your dentist. Talking to your dentist openly builds trust and will allow you to feel more confident with the procedures you will be receiving. Your dentist will also be able to work with you to figure out strategies to best provide your care while keeping anxiety levels low.
Bring a Friend
Bring a friend or a family member with you to your appointment. Having someone you trust with you may help alleviate some anxiety.
Timing is key
Make your appointments early in the morning so you have less time to fret and worry about the procedure. If you schedule your appointment later in the day, your anxiety levels will have had a chance to build all day.
Bring a book, stereo, stress ball, teddy bear…. Anything you can think of that may help distract you from the procedure.
Try to maintain regular, slow breathing. When you start to feel the fear taking control, take a minute to focus on your breathing. Take slow, deep breaths, and try to relax. Ask your dentist for a break if you need to, and try some breathing exercises to bring the anxiety under control.
All of these tips are great but for some people they are not enough. Some may need to seek psychological help to beat their dental phobias. Talk with your dentist about getting professional help if you are unable to manage on your own. Remember that you are not alone in your fear and that 1 in 4 Americans also share this common phobia. Be honest and take control of your fear so that you too can have a healthy, beautiful smile.