If you’re anything like me you’ll feel varying degrees of anxiety when you find yourself sitting in the dentist’s chair, perhaps you can remember a specific incident from your childhood that brings back painful memories or maybe you don’t like the sounds and smells involved. Being afraid of the dentist is nothing to be ashamed of and is something most of us experience at some time in our lives.
Signs and Symptoms of Dental Anxiety
People with dental anxiety may experience:
- Racing heartbeat (tachycardia) or palpitations
- Low blood pressure and possible fainting (syncope)
- Visible distress, crying, or signs of panic
- Withdrawal, or using humor or aggression to mask anxiety
The good news however is that modern dentistry is now a different experience, modern dentists have a greater understanding of their patients’ fears and concerns and have undergone additional training to meet these concerns. Dental practices have also greatly improved with less painful treatments, more efficient practices and quicker dental treatments along with your dentist’s empathy make for a much nicer experience.
Tips for Coping with Dental Anxiety
- Arrive relaxed, calm and on time – Plan your visit with care, be sure to allow plenty of time to arrive and park your car if driving. If you are running late or have difficulty getting there on time you will naturally be more stressed. A high level of stress can make you irritable and that makes it more difficult to control your level of anxiety.
- Try exercising your brain – Don’t just sit in the dentist’s chair imagining what might happen, but use the time effectively by thinking about something that will tax your brain. Why not have a brain puzzle already prepared, or perhaps you’d prefer to think about planning your next holiday or a home improvement. Whatever you do, make sure you have something to occupy your mind other than what is going on.
- Remember, you are in control – It is important that you let your dentist know how you will signal that you want them to stop now because you need a break before the dental treatment can start again. The mere fact that you can now control the situation often helps reduce anxiety and makes the treatment more bearable.
- Listen to music – Pop in those earbuds and listen to your music of choice or a book to help distract your mind and hide the sound of treatment.
Dental Anxiety Treatment Options
People can manage their dental anxiety or phobia in a number of ways. It is important to speak to your dentist and explain any fears and concerns you may have about your treatment—a good dentist will be able to empathize with your feelings and work with you to tailor a treatment plan for you. By carefully explaining what they are about to do and how, it will go a long way to resolving your issues without the need for any other technique, you may even find yourself looking forward to your next visit!
Some coping techniques that can assist some individuals include deep breathing, meditation, and hypnosis. Perhaps your dentist offers these techniques which are a little like daydreaming, these techniques allow you to gain control over your feelings of distress, panic, or fear. If your dentist doesn’t offer these services they will most likely be able to suggest somebody suitable.
Severe dental anxiety or phobia may require management with relative analgesia (happy gas), anxiety-relieving medication, conscious sedation, or general anesthesia.
Contact Our Eureka, MO Dentists
Eureka Dental Group is committed to providing the highest quality care in a warm and caring atmosphere. Our dentists offer comprehensive dental care and serve patients of all ages. We can work with you to help manage your dental anxiety and make you feel comfortable during your visit. Contact us today to set up an appointment!
About the Author
Tony Forster has a keen interest in dental care and bad breath treatment. The content of this article is for information purposes only, it is advisable to consult your medical or dental practitioner before implementing any program or change to your current regime.