Dental Anxiety is one of the main reasons for the neglect of going to a dentist, which in turn leads to poor oral health.
Can dental anxiety be avoided?
Can your bad dental experience be changed into a good one?
The answer is YES!
Dental anxiety is seen in a large number of the population including the children. And if the previous experience was a bad one, the anxiety will increase and will cause even more problems.
But not all the dentists are same. And also the techniques in dentistry have progressed so much from the previous times, that you will feel much more comfortable going to a dentist now than you were 10 years back.
The procedures are quick.
The equipment has changed.
The injections are less painful.
The X rays are better and fast.
So, the dental anxiety and phobia should decrease as well.
Different reasons for dental anxiety
A bad past dental experience can be the main cause of dental anxiety or dental phobia. But not every treatment is the same and also not every dentist. You can try changing your dentist and also you can try getting the treatment done from a specialist dentist who is an expert in the field you need the treatment for. Fear of dentist is one of the main causes for the dental problems.
Phobia of noise
Some patients have a phobia of going to a dentist because they have the phobia of noises in the dental clinic, especially the sound of the dental drill or the suction.
Phobia of needles
In many of the dental treatments injection is a must, and that requires needles. Many people are scared of needles due to which they avoid going to a dentist. But the injections are less painful or sometimes completely painless now as compared to what it was a few years back.
Phobia of pain
Some amount of pain and discomfort is a part of dentistry. Patient sometime perceives the discomfort also as pain, which causes the phobia.
Symptoms of dental anxiety
Every patient perceives the anxiety in a different way.
- Low blood pressure
- Aggressive behavior
Tips to overcome dental anxiety
1. Talk to your dentist
Search a dentist who listens. Yes, we are here!!
Search a dentist through word of mouth from your friends or family, or go online and look for the reviews. If you find the reviews comforting go for it. Call the doctor and book an appointment for the most comfortable time of the day and inform the doctor about your dental phobia. The doctor will deal with patience and give you his or her time if they already know about the situation.
During your visit talk about your dental fear and anxiety first and tell your doctor why you have it. Your doctor will understand and will help you in relieving the stress you are in.
Do not get the treatment done on the first visit if you are not feeling comfortable about it. Let the dentist explain the procedure in detail step by step. Take the appointment in the mornings when you are fresh and do not go empty stomach.
Communication is the key to most of the problems. Do not ignore it.
Breathe! Breathing is one of the best exercise to relieve stress.
During the appointment when you are getting the procedure done, inhale deep through your nose and exhale through your mouth. It will help you relax. Your mind will divert and you will no longer be thinking about the procedure.
3. Listen to some music
If you love listening to music then this is your drill. Get your headset along. If the sounds in the dental clinic bothers you then this will definitely make you feel more comfortable.
Many of the dental offices have the provision of music or even TV. You can ask the staff if you need something in particular. Music is one of the best distractions.
4. Distract yourself
Not much of a music lover? It is okay.
There are many other ways to distract yourself during the appointment.
Just moving your toes and fingers, helps tremendously.
Another way is to distract yourself with a stress ball, keep squeezing it and it will help you relax.
Think positive thoughts or think about something other than the dental procedure. Go to your happy place in your thoughts.
Concentrate on your breathing, this will relieve the stress and take your mind off the procedure.
5. Bring a friend or family member along
Bringing along a family member or a friend will help in relieving some amount of the stress. You might also request your dentist to let them accompany you in the operatory. Just feeling their presence will help you relax and be comfortable.
6. Take breaks in between
If you are tired and want to relax for a bit, let your doctor know. Your doctor will let you close your mouth for a while, communicate with you in the time being, and that will make you feel comfortable, and you will get a little rest as well.
You can sip on a glass of water, breathe for a minute or simply lie down with your eyes closed.
Meditation helps in relieving almost all types of anxiety. Meditate before your appointment, focus on your body and let your body relax.
While you are in the waiting room, do not concentrate on the noises from the operatory, rather meditate or even listen to a soothing music.
8. Decide on a signal
Decide on a signal with your doctor before you start with the procedure, and when you give that signal your doctor will stop immediately.
For example, in our clinic, we tell our patient to raise his or her left hand whenever they are uncomfortable, have any kind of pain, or simply want us to stop. The patient does the same and we immediately stop with the procedure to give a short break to the patient and listen to the concerns. This helps both the patient as well as the doctor and the procedure goes quite smooth.
9. Do not think about your previous bad experience
Past is past.
Now you are with another dentist. And even if you are with same one, just tell your dentist what was the difficulty you faced during your previous treatment. Your doctor will listen and understand the problem and make you comfortable.
If you keep going back, it would be difficult to undergo the treatment and that will eventually lead to a need of even more intensive procedures in future.
You can choose your dentist depending upon the specialty. For example, if you need a surgical extraction of your wisdom tooth, visit an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon. If you need to get the root canal done, visit an endodontist. If you need a consultation for your child, visit a pedodontist, and so on. They are experts in their fields and you will have less anxiety and more comfort with them.
10. Ask about the procedure in detail before starting with it
Ask about the procedure in detail step by step from your dentist before you start with the treatment. They will explain it to you and you will feel much more comfortable as the fear of unknown will not be there.
Do not hesitate, ask questions.
Effect of dental anxiety on oral health
Fear of going to a dentist can actually result in many oral health problems in future. A dental visit once every 6 months is what is required to maintain a good oral health and hygiene. But when we delay or ignore it, it results in further increase in the problems.
For example, you have a small cavity in your tooth and you avoid going to a dentist just because you are scared. The cavity increases in size and eventually the tooth needs a root canal treatment which is a more extensive procedure, which is done under local anesthesia and which might be slightly painful at time.
So, the best thing to do was to get the cavity filled, which was a small pit and just required a filling.
Starting early is the key for most of the problems. The best thing to do to avoid dental anxiety in your child is to take your child for the first dental visit by the child’s first birthday or within the first 6 months of eruption of the first tooth, which ever is earlier. This will let the child understand that it is a routine procedure and nothing scary or bad is going to happen. The child will get accustomed to the surroundings soon. And a dental visit once every 6 months after that is also mandatory.
This blog provides general information about Dental Anxiety. The opinion and content on this blog is only for conversational purposes and should not be interpreted as dental or medical advice pertaining to any particular individual. If the reader or any other person has a medical or dental concern, he or she should consult with an appropriate licensed physician or a health care provider.
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