Many people experience dental anxiety when it comes to the dentist. For some, worry and fear stem from past experiences, while others may worry about pain or the cost of treatment. Unfortunately, these fears can sometimes prevent patients from receiving preventive care or necessary treatment.
There are a variety of options, such as researching dental offices and using specific distracting techniques, for those with dental apprehensions. When patients manage anxiety around going to the dentist, major oral issues may be avoided in the future.
Options for dental anxiety
The following are some techniques one can use to manage dental unease.
Try a dentist out first
Every dentist is different, and one may have a more calming aura than another. Begin talking with friends and family members for recommendations, and then do some online research. It is possible to get a pretty good feel about a dentist and their office just by checking out different websites. Many dentists will also schedule a pre-visit before scheduling an appointment for a checkup. During this visit, meet the staff and get a true sense of the environment. If it feels right and calming, this is a good start to the whole process.
Communicate fears and worries with all parties
Communicating any nervousness or specific concern from the beginning can make a huge difference. If the front desk staff knows someone is apprehensive, they may schedule the patient for a longer appointment time or with a specific hygienist.
Patients often spend a good amount of time with the dental hygienist, and this person can help ease a patient’s fears when clearly stated. To ease anxiety, some patients need a lot of communication around what is being done, while others may prefer quiet.
If a patient needs a specific treatment, it is very important that the dentist or oral surgeon understand the fears and apprehensions. A different strategy may be devised, or perhaps the dentist will take more breaks when anxiety is sensed.
Dentists use sedation for a number of reasons such as pain prevention and as a way to stop the gag reflex. Sedation can also be used to help patients remain relaxed and calm. Speak with the dentist about the best options, whether it is laughing gas, an IV, local anesthetic or oral sedation. This is safe for most patients and, for some, may be the best way to manage dental anxiety.
Distractions can be very helpful. If possible, bring along a friend who can keep you busy with conversation or jokes. A companion can also make sure the patient actually makes it to the appointment. Music can be very comforting for some patients, so bring along headphones and calming music. For others, mind games can provide enough distraction.
Many dental offices now offer headphones and screens so patients can relax with favorite shows or movies. This also helps drown out the sound of any tools the dentist may need to use.
Dental anxiety can be debilitating for some patients and prevents them from getting the care they need. Fortunately, there are numerous options to help ease apprehension and fears around going to the dentist.
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