Why you may be experiencing dental anxiety
When asked what your plans are for the day, the last thing you want to answer with is “I am going to the dentist.”
Since primary school, telling your classmates and even family members that you were going to a dental office had everyone wishing you luck. People have developed a rather large dislike of the dentist because of the lack of self-control and the embarrassment that comes from showing off those not-so-pearly whites.
Reasons why you may have dental anxiety
Sometimes, the state of someone’s teeth can cause them to avoid the dentist and dread the upcoming visit because they are embarrassed by how bad they may have let their teeth get.
The invasion of the dental exam and closeness to the dentist and hygienist can create a level of discomfort that makes you feel anxious.
Lack of self-control
Often, sitting in that dental chair, unable to move or talk, can leave people on edge. You are unable to gauge when the dentist is about to do something and whether or not it will hurt.
Leaving your mouth open, unable to move much or speak, all of these things can cause someone to feel rather helpless and may trigger their flight or fight instincts.
At-home ways to prepare for your dental visit
Get recommendations and read reviews
If you have friends, family members, or coworkers who have used this dentist, ask them for the positives of the dental visit. If this is a new dentist you have never used before, it would be beneficial to hear the good things other people say so you can take some of the edges off.
Eat the right kids of foods before going to the dentist
Foods high in sugar and caffeine should be avoided, not just because they can stain your teeth but because they can cause you to feel jittery and on edge.
Eat more hearty foods like proteins or carbs to help calm your body down and power it with nutrients so you feel good going into the appointment.
Set up your dental appointment at a calming hour
Everyone’s less-stressful hour is different, so find yours and make the appointment. If you make your appointment right before work or school, you may get anxious that you won’t have enough time for the visit and get to your destination on time.
4 ways to calm dental anxiety when you arrive at the dentist
1. Bring headphones
The sound of the equipment can often make people anxious because of the volume inside your head. There is no need to have a meaningful conversation with your dentist or hygienist during this time, so put in those headphones and let all the other sounds drown out.
2. Use signals
Because you can’t move much or speak, using hand signals is the best way to get your dentist’s attention if you are starting to feel uncomfortable.
Talk to your dentist about hand signals that work while the exam is being done so they know when to stop or slow down.
3. Digital dentistry
Traditional impressions can make anyone nervous because your mouth can’t move or open and the idea of impression material going in your mouth causes you to panic.
Intraoral scanners can have your whole mouth digitized quickly, so your chair time is immensely shortened. Talk to your dentist about this option.
4. Talk to your dentist about how you feel
Be open and honest with your dentist.
Let your dentist know that dental exams, procedures, and checkups at the dentist cause you a great deal of stress.
Not only will your dentist be able to work slowly and constantly check in to see how you are doing, but if you inform them before the appointment, they may be able to offer you a sedation/sleep dental exam.
Your dentist may be able to offer you one of the following:
- Laughing gas
- Oral sedation
- IV sedation
- General anesthesia
Please note that you will need to plan this ahead of time with your dentist, so your dentist is prepared to go over the best form of sedation.