(a Halloween Special)
Many people find a trip to the dentist no less frightening than a trip to a haunted house. Here are a few tips to make your next visit a little sweeter.
- Realize fear of the dentist is common all around the world- and that it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Acknowledging your fears and even writing them down can be a big step towards overcoming your dental anxiety.
- Get familiar with the new (& much improved) dental tools/procedures. Thoughts of long needles and loud drills are enough to send anyone screaming. It’s important to understand that dental procedures (and tools) have improved tremendously in the last few years. Several dentists that are sensitive to this issue also go to lengths to make their office look and smell a lot less clinical than they did in the past.
- Find a dentist that is the right fit for you. If you aren’t comfortable with your dentist, it can worsen any anxiety you have. The best way to find a doctor who can ease your anxiety in the chair is to ask your own friends and family members. They know your personality and would be unlikely to recommend someone with whom they were not comfortable. Another way is to look for reviews online or in local publications. The right doctor will listen to your concerns and make you feel (more) at ease.
- Don’t miss preventative appointments. Going to the dentist for your preventative appointments will allow you to build a relationship of trust with your dentist. Additionally, it could be beneficial in catching small dental problems before they worsen. The ADA recommends that most patients visit the dentist twice per year.
- Communicate with your dentist. Remember, the key to any good relationship is good communication. Talking to your dentist before, during, and after your procedures, can help minimize your fears. Make sure you understand what they are doing, why, and how it went.
- Try some relaxation techniques. There are several techniques you could employ to manage your dental phobia. Some of these include:
- Breathing exercises can sometimes be enough to help people relax through their dental appointments. As you try to clear your mind, inhale for 4 seconds, then exhale for 4 seconds.
- Many dentists may suggest using nitrous oxide or sedation to help you relax during your visit.
- Some dentists may give anti-anxiety medication before treatment if you suffer from severe anxiety.
- If you take any anti-anxiety medications that are not prescribed by your dentist, make sure to tell them before you start any treatment to help ensure there are not any potentially dangerous drug interactions.
- Note that taking medications during a procedure many incur additional charges, which may not be covered by dental insurance.
- Distract yourself with media. Many dental offices are now equipped with music or television for their patients. If not, come prepared with your own tablet or phone and headphones (if you have ones with noise cancellation, these are optimal). Listening to music/podcast or watching an episode (or 2) of your favorite show can make a dental appointment go by a lot faster.
- Take good care of your teeth. This is the best tip of all. Make sure to eat well. Brush and floss regularly & correctly. These things can ensure that your next visit to the dentist isn’t nearly as scary!