Dental anxiety and a fear of visiting the dentist is much more common than most people think! Nearly 20% of adults experience dental anxiety severe enough they avoid going to the dentist.
This is unfortunate because it can result in a vicious cycle. Fewer trips to the dentist mean small problems can become more serious. More required treatment often means more anxiety, which leads to even less dental care!
If you suffer from dental anxiety, don’t despair! It can be overcome and you can get the dental care you need. You can have a beautiful, healthy smile even if you’re nervous about visiting the dentist. As a dentist in the Camas and Vancouver area, I love helping my patients feel relaxed and at ease.
In today’s article, we’ll talk more about the causes of dental anxiety and strategies you can use to make your next visit to the dentist more enjoyable.
Start Right Now!
Overcoming your dental anxiety is a process that should begin well before your next appointment. Start by identifying the triggers of your anxiety and then create strategies to help you get through anxiety attacks.
What Exactly Causes Your Dental Anxiety?
Dental anxiety is different for every person.
Some people are afraid of pain during dental procedures. However, modern dentistry using the latest tools and techniques is surprisingly painless! Dental technology has come a long way in the past 10-15 years and most procedures are much less invasive than ever before.
Instead, research shows it’s actually the lack of control felt at the dentist that causes most cases of dental anxiety. You might feel panicky or uneasy during your dental appointment, especially if you had a bad experience at the dentist as a child.
Other common triggers of dental anxiety include:
- Claustrophobia – At Radiance Dental, our chairs are comfortable and relaxing
- Fear of Needles – By using topical anesthetics, we can minimize the pain felt when injecting numbing agents during procedures
Working With the Right Dentist
All dentists are different and a key to dealing with dental anxiety effectively is to choose a dentist who is right for you.
If you have dental anxiety, I’d love to talk to you and help you develop a strategy to overcome it. I believe dentistry should be pain-free, minimally invasive, and a completely relaxing, rejuvenating experience.
I will listen to your fears and together we will develop a plan to help you get the care you need. Our whole office staff is trained to help minimize your anxiety from the moment you walk in the door!
We’ve worked hard to create a welcoming, relaxing, and friendly environment in our office.
Tips For Overcoming Dental Anxiety
Try Exercising Before Your Next Appointment
Have you ever heard of a “runner’s high”? It’s the release of endorphins during exercise. Believe it or not, exercising before your dental appointment can reduce anxiety and help you feel calmer and more at ease.
Here’s how it works:
- Increased endorphin levels can act as natural painkillers and make you feel relaxed and content, instead of worried and anxious
- Increased serotonin and norepinephrine levels will make you feel much less stressed
There’s no need to do an intense workout, though! Even light or moderate exercise, like a brisk 15-minute walk can help!
Calm Your Body & Mind
During your dental appointment, focus on calming your body and mind. Your heart might race and your mind might run a mile a minute. But there are strategies you can use to feel more at ease and less anxious.
To minimize your feelings of physical anxiety, try:
Taking Deep Breaths: Take slow, steady deep breaths send consciously remember you’re not in danger. Try counting each breath and focus on filling your lungs with each breath in, and emptying them completely every time you breathe out.
Eliminating Muscle Tension: Where is the stress in your body? Your neck? Shoulders? Back? Legs? As you breathe, imagine your muscles relaxing and tension evaporating from your body. The key is to visualize your body relaxing!
Taking a Break: During longer appointments or procedures, you might need to take a break to relax, use the bathroom, or calm down. Ask your dentist before your appointment starts to find out if a break is recommended.
Listening to Music: Your favorite music can reduce anxiety during your appointment. It can also drown out sounds which might contribute to your dental anxiety. Ask if your dentist allows music during appointments.
Bringing a Friend or Family Member: Being accompanied by a friend or loved one can help you feel more comfortable before your appointment. Kids especially, may benefit from having a parent present during an appointment.
Asking About Sedation Dentistry: Sedation dentistry can help with extreme dental anxiety.
Talk with Your Dentist
Keep the lines of communication open with your dentist. Tell your dentist if you start to feel anxious during a procedure. At Radiance Dental, we’ll never judge you or make you feel bad. We simply want to help you as much as possible and will do everything we can to make sure you’re comfortable and at ease during your appointment.
General Tips and Strategies for Minimizing Dental Anxiety
- Get Plenty of Sleep. Being anxious can lead to feelings of exhaustion.
- Eat Healthy Meals. Don’t skip dinner or eat too much junk food, which can actually make your anxiety even worse!
- Write Down Your Fears. Sometimes this can help you take a more objective look at what’s causing your anxiety and help you realize they aren’t as scary as they might seem!
- Speak Your Worries Out Loud. While writing down fears helps some people, others will benefit more from, saying them out loud.
- Make Yourself Laugh! Watch your favorite funny movie or TV show, play with your pets, or do something to make you laugh. Laughter reduces anxiety! It’s a fact!
Visit Us at Radiance Dental
When it comes to your dental anxiety, we’re here to help! We can help you receive the care you need without added stress, fear, or anxiety. If you’re nervous about visiting the dentist, call us at (360) 369-6420 to talk about how we can help you!