If you have ever felt uneasy or fearful about having routine dental cleanings or special procedures done, then you are not alone. In fact, millions of Americans feel the same way. While feeling nervous or moderately anxious is normal, some allow their fears to negatively impact their oral hygiene and health.
It's common for those who are fearful to postpone or even cancel cleanings or procedures which need to be performed. However, this will only add to the problem. Dental issues will get worse if left untreated and may eventually affect other areas of the body. Learning ways to cope allows you to get needed dental work done so you can experience a greater quality of life and a confident smile.
What Causes Dental Anxiety?
There is a wide variety of factors that can contribute to dental anxiety. Anxious patients often feel this way due to:
- Being closely examined
- Loss of control
- Embarrassment or feeling self-conscious
- Fear of injections or loud procedures
- Fear of discomfort and pain
- Fear of anesthesia and its side effects
- Past bad experiences
- Experiences they have heard about from others
Effective Ways to Cope With Dental Fears
One of the most effective ways to manage dental anxiety is to talk about it. When you call to set up your appointment, let the receptionist know how you feel. Then, on your appointment day, share your feelings with your hygienist and dentist. If they know you are feeling anxious, they can go slower and provide you with helpful tips. Have them explain everything they are doing so you are aware and informed.
You can also work with your dentist to come up with a "stop signal" like lifting a finger or waving your hand so that they can stop what they are doing if you start feeling too uncomfortable, have a question, or need a quick break.
Keeping yourself distracted while in the dental office also helps with coping. You can take a book to read or a magazine to flip through while you wait. Many rooms feature TVs so you can request to watch a movie or tune into your favorite channel during your appointment. You can also bring along some headphones so you can listen to a podcast or your favorite music.
If your dental team is informed, they can also provide alternatives if needed, such as medication to ease pain or intense nervousness. Some other effective ways to cope are to:
- Take someone you trust with you
- Practice deep breathing techniques
- Perform guided imagery
- Try behavioral techniques like rephrasing negative situations and fears into positive ones
Be Prepared for Your Appointment
To ease your nervousness and cut down on the time you spend in the dentist's chair, always be sure to maintain good dental hygiene when you are at home. EverSmile offers quick and simple dental solutions you can even perform on-the-go. Whether you need breath-freshening options or teeth whitening options, EverSmile can help you be better prepared for your next dental visit.