Dental anxiety is a common and leading reason why many Canadians delay going to their local dentist, even when they suffer tooth or gum pain. Everyone has their own reasons for feeling anxious about the dentist. Some worry about the pain, others are embarrassed by the current state of their oral health, and still others dread the feelings of helplessness that occur when they are strapped to the dentist chair. Whatever the root worry or fear that you or a loved one have about visiting the dentist, the good news is there are ways to overcome it.
First, most types of dental anxiety come from a natural instinct we have to not open our mouths and be vulnerable to another person. It’s important to recognize this anxiety, accept it, and commit to moving forward. It is a normal, biological guarding instinct. That said, our modern selves can overcome it so that we can go to the dentist without feelings of overwhelming fear or anxiety. The key is to tackle the issue head-on with the following steps and helpful tips:
- Share your fears. When setting up your dental appointment, tell the staff that you have dental anxiety. Share your concerns with them then as well as when you arrive at the office. This will allow the team to adapt treatment to ensure you have the most positive experience.
- Use hand signals. One such treatment adaption your Lasalle dentist might suggest is the use of hand signals during the dental procedures. Hand signals will enable you to express your discomfort when you are unable to verbally communicate so that you can feel more in control during the dental procedure. Signals might be used to tell the dentist to ease off, stop, or explain the procedure.
- Bring something to listen to. Sometimes the problem is in overthinking and over analyzing the situation. Distract your mind and stay relaxed by bringing along your favorite music, podcast, or audiobook to listen to throughout your time at the dentist office.
- Avoid caffeine and sugar before a dental appointment. What we eat and drink has a significant effect on our emotional and mental health. Avoid consuming items with caffeine or high sugar content as these items will ramp up your anxiety. Instead, look for high-protein foods that will produce a more calming effect.
- Use focused breathing techniques during your visit. People who are nervous tend to hold their breath, which decreases the body’s oxygen levels and increases anxiety or the feeling of general panic. So before you visit, practice meditation and focused breathing exercises and use those techniques during your dental procedure to reduce feelings of dental anxiety.