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Anxious About Visiting the Dentist? Challenge Your Fear with These 5 Tips | RMHP Blog

Anxious About Visiting the Dentist? Challenge Your Fear with These 5 Tips | RMHP Blog



5 Ways to Alleviate Dental Anxiety

If you experience anxiety in the dentist’s office, you’re not alone.

According to findings from the Dental Research Journal, as many as 6 in 10 people have at least minor anxiety about sitting in the dentist's chair, while 5 to 15 percent have severe dental phobia.

Unfortunately, when people experience anxiety, they may avoid important dental treatments. If anxiety is making your dental appointments difficult or impossible, the following tips can help alleviate your fears.

Why are people afraid of the dentist?

People feel anxious for different reasons. However, several common issues tend to lead to dental anxiety, including:

  • Childhood trauma: Certain people may recall an especially painful or difficult dental treatment from the past.
  • Lack of control: Some patients experience anxiety when a dentist hovers above them while they are "trapped" in a chair.
  • Unfamiliar instruments: Since they can look foreign or intimidating, dental instruments can make some people feel anxious.
  • Self-consciousness: Others worry the dentist will judge them for not practicing good dental hygiene.

Fortunately, each of these factors, and others, can be overcome.

How to overcome anxiety about visiting the dentist

If you feel nervous about visiting the dentist, there are some things you can do to reduce your anxiety. These include:

1. Meet with the dentist beforehand:

You can get ahead of your worries by scheduling a consultation before any dental work is done. Also called pre-treatment conditioning, this type of easy, laid-back interaction can make you feel more confident and comfortable in the office. It also helps you build a rapport with the dentist, hygienist, and office staff.

2. Express your feelings:

Since dental anxiety is extremely common, let your hygienist and dentist know you tend to feel anxious during dental visits. They’ll take steps to prioritize your comfort and well-being, and you can also speak up anytime you feel anxiety or physical discomfort during treatment.

3. Asking questions:

You can alleviate or eliminate a lot of anxiety by inquiring about the dentist’s practice and recommended treatment. Ask questions about the dentist's instruments to learn what they do and whether they will be a part of your treatment. You should also ask how long your procedure will take and what you can expect to feel.

4. Making requests:

It's perfectly alright to ask your dentist to make allowances for your anxiety. For example, if you're afraid of needles, ask the dentist to let you know when they plan to administer anesthetic so that you can take a deep breath and close your eyes. Hand alerts are also very helpful, and you can use them to let the dentist know you’re in pain or need to take a break from the procedure. Deep breathing exercises are another great tool you can use to reduce stress and calm your nervous system.

5. Practicing good dental hygiene:

If your anxiety centers on embarrassment, commit to good dental hygiene at home. By brushing twice every day and flossing at least once, you can avoid heavy plaque buildup and bleeding gums, two things that make some people feel a little self-conscious during a dental exam.