Many people do not like going to the dentist. It can be uncomfortable and time consuming, and sometimes it is expensive. However most people just shrug it off and go anyway when their six month appointment rolls around. There is a group of people though that have a genuine fear of the dentist that they can not so easily shake off. Known as Dental Anxiety, it is estimated that about 20% of the population are effected by some form of fear associated with going to the dentist. It can be moderate or severe fright that actually resembles post traumatic stress syndrome.
Even though the patient knows that their family dentist is not actually trying to hurt them, it can be hard to overcome those fears. If the fear wins out, usually the person will avoid going to the dentist, which in turn can cause serious dental issues, and it becomes a vicious cycle of behavior. Here are a few things you can do to help ease anxiety when you go to the dentist:
- The first and most important thing you can to is talk to your dentist. Explain to them your aniety and why you have it if you are aware of the cause. Telling your dentist before you even book an appointment about your concerns allows the dentist to ask questions to find out how severe your fear is. Then they appropriately prepare for your visit. Some family dentists even have forms on their website you can complete to help them gain a better understanding.
- Distract yourself while you are at the dentist by bringing in your ear buds and listening to music, or watching tv if it’s available at the office. Some people will even bring in an audio book to listen to while they’re getting their teeth cleaned.
- Practice relaxation techniques before you go to the office so you feel comfortable using them while you are there. Deep breathing, visualization and mediation are all great places to start. and if you have the habit ingrained by the time you start to feel stress, you will be able to automatically switch to meditation while you are there.
- Bring someone you trust with you to the appointment. A friend, husband or wife that will be there to hold your hand can do a lot for someone’s anxiety levels. Make sure they know the level of your fear so that they will be prepared and able to assist you while you are in the dentist’s chair.
- If all else fails, talk to your dentist and taking a sedative or anxiety medication before your visit. Usually your dentist can write you a prescription a few days in advance and will have you take the pill the night before and then the morning of your visit. If they have to do extensive work inside your mouth, they may suggest sedating you completely so that you are not conscious during the visit. All of this will depend on the amount of fear you are experiencing and the causes of it.