If you get nervous or afraid at the thought of going to the dentist, you are not alone. About 9-15% of Americans do not see their dentist due to dental anxiety or fear.
When it comes to maintaining a healthy smile, it takes a lot more than just brushing and flossing. Taking care of our teeth requires visiting a dentist at least twice a year for check-ups and thorough cleanings. If you find yourself stressed out to the point that you avoid dental care, you might face consequences that are more far-reaching than a few cavities – significant health complications, loss of self-confidence, early tooth loss, and more.
Potential Causes of Dental Anxiety
This fear of the dentist may be caused by a number of factors, including the anticipation of pain, feeling helpless, negative experiences in the past, or embarrassment. For some, it can be helpful to pinpoint the reason for their dental anxiety and address it. There are varying levels of dental anxiety, from mild anxiety to dental phobia. For anyone who finds themselves avoiding the dentist, unable to sleep before appointments, or feeling physically ill at the dentist’s office, it’s important to treat the issue for your dental and mental health!
5 Ways to Ease Your Dental Anxiety
The good news is that there are plenty of things that you can do to ease your anxiety about visiting the dentist.
- Meet your dentist and tell them that you are afraid. Make sure you acknowledge that there is a problem and that your dentist is prepared to listen. When you meet your dentist and get to know him or her, you will feel more at ease with the person behind the mask.
- Come in with a friend or family member. Having someone who understands your fears will help you feel more comfortable and calm during your visit.
- Use Noise-Cancelling Headphones. Simply blocking out the sounds of the dental equipment could help you relax. Listening to a favorite playlist or audiobook will keep you in a great mood and allow the dentist to clean your teeth.
- Discuss pain management. Using a topical anesthetic to numb the affected areas is a common practice, and other options include delivering anesthetic through an injection.
- Agree on a signal. Discuss with your dentist about a signal that you can give if you begin to feel uncomfortable.
Some other things that you can do to make your visit more comfortable include meditating silently, wearing nasal strips to help facilitate breathing through your nose, and distracting yourself with various brain teasers.
To prevent dental anxiety for your children, we recommend taking them to the pediatric dentist before the age of one. Not only is it a good idea for their oral health, the pediatric dentist is specially trained to communicate and treat children. This will instill a positive attitude toward visiting the dentist early on. You can learn more about pediatric dentistry and its benefits from our friend, Dr. Dan, who is also a pediatric dentist and orthodontist at Showtime Smiles in McKinney, TX. Check out their guide to pediatric dentistry for tips about how to treat dental anxiety for children.
Maintaining Your Teeth for Future Visits
If dental procedures like root canals, dental implants, or tooth extractions are what scare you, there’s an easy way to prevent them. By maintaining your teeth on a regular basis, dental exams will be a breeze. Make sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss thoroughly every night to keep harmful bacteria at bay. Getting a healthy dose of calcium and Vitamin D will also promote bone and teeth health. When you take care of your teeth, you help minimize the risk of getting gingivitis, tooth decay, and other dental problems that require serious procedures.
We also offer sedation dentistry solutions at New Generation Dentistry for patients who are going through more serious procedures and suffer extreme dental anxiety. Ask our Mission Viejo dentists if sedation dentistry is a good option for you or a loved one. It’s our goal to make sure you have a positive experience at the dentist. Let us know how you’re feeling, so we can overcome your dental anxiety together.
New Generation Dentistry is a team of passionate dentists in Mission Viejo who are committed to helping patients achieve that perfect smile. Whenever you feel ready, schedule an appointment to visit us at our dental office in Orange County. We will be sure to help you overcome your dental anxiety in any way that we can.
Updated for 2018.