Do you avoid visiting the dentist out of fear? If so, you’re not alone! In fact, about 80% of Amercians experience dental anxiety that ranges from mild to severe. Combating anxiety of any form can be difficult, and for some, dental anxiety is a form of fear that results in lengthy dental care gaps. Research has shown that 15% of individuals in the United States tend to skip their regular dental exams, which can result in more long-term damage to your oral health down the line.
At Wellspring Dental, we believe in taking the utmost care of our patients– not just their smile, but the psychological components that partner proper oral hygiene. Both anxiety and depression can have an impact on how you care for your teeth at home– and how often you visit the dentist. In an effort to help you feel more comfortable, here are a few tips to help alleviate those fears, support a healthy oral hygiene routine, and allow you to feel more at peace in the dental chair.
What is dental anxiety?
Dental anxiety refers to nervousness and intense fear associated with a scheduled dental visit. The phobia of making dental visits prevents most people from reporting dental concerns, and many people associate dental exams with being painful. Even though we’re taught to recognize that dental checkups are beneficial, many people will convince themselves that their oral hygiene can take a backseat. The lack of dental pain or concern is often enough for individuals to avoid the dentist, however, there are many oral diseases that can present themselves without signs or symptoms.
For this reason, many people will avoid the dentist until a problem is too severe to ignore– resulting in a more intense experience for them when they finally get to the dental chair. This ongoing cycle can make it more difficult to overcome dental anxiety, whereas regular dental exams can prevent problems in their tracks, allowing for a more relaxed dental experience where only cleaning is involved.
Here are some of the common reasons people avoid going to the dentist’s office:
- Previous negative experiences.
- Low pain threshold.
- Shame and embarrassment about revealing their dental problems.
- Fear of the unknown.
How to Overcome Dental Anxiety
It’s important to know that dental anxiety can be overcome, and it is very possible to find a solution that supports your unique dental needs. Here are a few ways you can work to overcome dental anxiety and feel confident scheduling your next oral hygiene exam…
Find a dentist that understand dental anxiety
While dental anxiety is highly recognized, not all dentists put this at the forefront of their business. Finding a dentist that understands your needs, and works to alleviate any discomfort is the first step in redefining your dental journey. Each dentist at Wellspring Dental holds a high focus on patient care, and will work to ensure you feel heard, understood and comfortable.
Understand why you feel anxious about dental visits
A huge part of overcoming dental anxiety is sorting through your feelings. You need to figure out what triggers your fear and discomfort. It helps to talk with your dentist about your concerns. Having this conversation will allow your dentist to make the experience comfortable, because they understand your unique barriers.
Local Anesthesia and Nitrous Oxide Sedation
We understand that it can be difficult to stay calm throughout the dental visit. Even those patients who come in feeling confident can have moments of uneasiness. For this reason, Wellspring Dental offers anesthesia as an oral sedation technique, allowing you to feel calm during your dental visit and return to regular activities immediately after. In some cases, we also offer Nitrous Oxide, known as “happy gas”, to encourage a relaxed state of mind and ease any procedure discomfort.
Use relaxation and mindfulness techniques to stay calm.
Mindfulness and relaxation techniques are ideal for helping you unwind and find peace of mind. This is an effective practice to try before any dental procedure. The idea behind mindfulness and relaxation is to ease your nervous system, allowing you to focus on things outside of the dental procedure.
Examples of relation techniques include but are not limited to:
- Deep breathing exercises.
- Listening to music or guided meditations.
- Progressive muscle relaxation.
Go with a partner
Going to the dentist with a partner allows you to feel supported. Sometimes it’s easier to go through challenging situations when you have a loved one to hold your hand or stand by in the waiting room.
Ask many questions
Getting clear on the procedures and treatments you will undergo might help alleviate your fears. A good dentist will answer all your questions with compassion. If you feel uneasy about a procedure or nervous about what’s to come, feel free to ask your dentist. There are chances that a detailed explanation will calm your worries and take away the anxiety.
Dental anxiety is nothing to be embarrassed about. It is normal to feel anxious about going for a medical examination, partly because you want to always be in excellent health. However, you cannot maintain perfect health without regular visits to the doctor. By finding your perfect dental home, your dentist will be able to understand how you feel and walk compassionately with you every step of the way.