It is time for the afternoon trip to the dentist, and all the sudden the anxiety sets in. It's a formless, almost unconscious fear, but before you know it, the feeling overtakes the rest of the day. Dental anxiety is something that many people struggle with, be it an anxiety that originated in childhood or one that has developed in adulthood. Letting this anxiety go is a struggle for anyone who experiences it. However, it is a condition that is well worth addressing before it goes on too long. Here are some tips and guidelines to help ease dental anxiety.
Signs Of Dental Anxiety
The signs of dental anxiety can appear well before a dentist visit is even scheduled. They include a general sense of panic when you think of the dentist, shame and withdrawal around the mention of your teeth or going to the dentist, trouble sleeping when you think of going to a dental appointment, and increased panic and erratic behavior when going to the dentist or sitting in the waiting room. There is no one reason why people experience these symptoms of anxiety, but they generally originate from a fear of pain, a concern about lack of control while in the dentist chair, or shame around your current dental hygiene. Luckily there is something you can do about all these anxieties and symptoms, and it starts with one simple step.
Help Starts With Communication
The first step in addressing any problem is acknowledging that you have it in the first place. Of course this is the hardest step of all, but we recommend beginning with a simple step - tell your dentist that you struggle with dental anxiety. It is as easy as that. Many patients can go years without declaring this fear to their dentist. Worse yet, some patients avoid the dentist due to these feelings. If you haven't found a dentist to your liking, or you're simply struggling to go to the dentist, we recommend finding a dentist with a good rating and history of helping patients with dental anxiety.
Whether you're attending a regular appointment with your dentist or trying to go to the dentist for the first time in a long time, all you have to do is mention your anxiety up front when scheduling. There is a good reason for this. Pay attention to how the staff and the dentist responds to this information. If there is not compassion and accommodation offered upfront, then you may be going to the wrong dentist for your needs. A quality dentist should be able to provide special care for your anxiety and actually be an aid to you in lessening fears in the future.
How Your Dentist Can Help
Your dentist can aid in reducing or completely remove dental anxiety in many ways. Once you are confident enough to tell the dentist you have issues of dental anxiety, a good office has several things they can do to lessen anxiety during your experience. First and foremost, many patients like to receive updates on what the dentist or dental hygienist is doing as they sit in the chair. Any good office should be more than willing to accommodate this. You can also develop a report or set of signals with your dentist so they know when you need them to pause or stop what they are doing. This can help patients evaluate how active they need to be during the visit to reduce anxiety.
While some patients will need to stop periodically and talk about the next steps of the procedure, others are content to just receive calm updates throughout the process. Remember this is no universal solution. You need to get into the office and see what works for you and try to discern where the feelings of anxiety are originating from. A simple checkup and cleaning is a good place to start. It doesn't last too long and you don't have to commit to more substantial procedures during that first visit. It's a good chance to gauge how well you're dentist will work with your anxiety.
Ask A Friend / Family Member
There are other resources you can turn to aside from a quality dentist and staff. Often talking to another friend or family member about your dental anxiety can help. You'll find that many people struggle with dental anxiety, and you're not alone. What's more, you can ask a trusted friend or family member to attend your next appointment with you. The added support can really help those who have problems attending or keeping an appointment go to the dentist. Once there, and in the care of a good dentist who can accommodate your anxiety fears, patients often see it's not as bad as they originally feared. After all, many fears are lessened once you go through the experience.
While there is no one size fits all solution for dental anxiety, you don't have to go on struggling with it alone or jeopardize your dental hygiene by avoiding the dentist out of fear. As we just covered, it starts with simple communication, a helping hand from a friend or family member, and the kind support of a quality dentist. We can offer both quality communication and careful care around your dental anxiety at Grace & Leedy Family Dentistry. Contact us to see how we're different and excel with patients who have dental anxiety.