Any mention of the word “dentist,” and you’ll find most people cringe at the thought of it. No one takes a particular liking to having their mouth wide open while being examined. Unfortunately for some, visiting the dentist is a challenging task that evokes mild to severe dental anxiety. If you’re a sufferer, take comfort knowing that there are ways to overcome your fears! When this is accomplished, you’re on your way to greater health and maintaining a gorgeous smile.
What is dental anxiety?
Dental anxiety can affect a person in a variety of ways. It can be described as a fear of the dentist, dental environments, needles, drills, or the sounds of the tools. Some may experience sweating, a rapid or pounding heartbeat, feeling of panic, nausea, fainting, covering up emotions, embarrassment, etc. before or during their appointment.
There can be numerous causes for dental anxiety. It might trace back to a traumatic childhood experience. Some may simply not trust the dentist or hate to feel out of control of the situation. Other reasons for this anxiety may include feeling vulnerable or exposed, losing privacy, feeling embarrassment, fear of pain, being nervous to learn the dental results, or experiencing other phobias and anxieties.
Ways You Can Overcome It
If you struggle with dental anxiety, we’re pleased to inform you that there are many ways to get through it, if not overcome it entirely!
Let’s visit these methods so you can find what works best for you:
- Research dental offices: This may go without saying, but it’s important that you feel comfortable around your dentist and to look for a place that will accommodate you and help you through your anxieties.
- Take someone you trust with you: If it helps you feel better, don’t hesitate to reach out to a friend or family member. Ask them to tag along, because it may help ease your nerves. Here, we welcome everyone with open arms!
- Give yourself time: Be sure to arrive at your appointment on time. It may even help to arrive early to remain calm and continue to settle your mind. Take a minute to look around, get comfortable in your surroundings, or chat with the friendly staff.
- Use relaxation techniques: Using methods to relax yourself before or during your visit can work to greatly reduce your dental anxiety. Some of these relaxation techniques include deep breathing, meditation or visualizing yourself in a comforting place, and relaxing your muscles. You can even try tightening them first to see the difference it makes when you then relax. Rhythmic exercises such as walking, running, swimming, or dancing before your visit can also help calm you. You could also try counting numbers or singing your favorite song in your mind. You may ask yourself why you’re feeling anxious in order to analyze your thoughts and anxieties from a different prospective.
- Distract yourself: Similar to the techniques listed above, you can also use outside sources to distract yourself, such as reading a book or playing a game on your phone. See if your dental office provides television in the rooms, and if not, ask if you can use your own distraction, such as music or a movie with earbuds on your device.
- Schedule your next appointment as soon as possible: Ideally, you should set your upcoming appointment before you leave the building. That way, you won’t have to make an effort to call back later.
- Communicate with your dentist: We’re all ears! Never hesitate to be upfront and honest with our dentists and our staff. Talk about your dental anxiety, what you can handle, and where you may need assistance. Make a plan with our dentist to take breaks during procedures or discuss approved medications to help reduce anxiety. Asking your dentist to converse with you can also serve as a good distraction. Also, don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re uncomfortable at any time!
Benefits to Conquering Your Anxiety
While the benefit of overcoming your dental fears would mean no more stress for your body and mind, it also leads to a much healthier smile. Those who suffer from severe dental anxiety may go as far as to skip appointments or avoid the dentist altogether. If kept up for a prolonged period of time, this could lead to major health complications such as tooth decay and gum disease. If not taken care of, these problems may put other parts of your body at risk like your heart, for instance.
The bottom line: You do not suffer alone. Many people are battling through dental anxiety every day. The good news is, help is here for you, and with practice, you may find that each dental visit gets a little easier. Our dentists and staff are here to listen to your needs and help you become more comfortable in our office environment.
Dental Group of Simi Valley
Welcome to the family! Since 1963, Dental Group of Simi Valley has catered to smiles of every kind. We offer a wide variety of procedures including preventative care, fillings, restoration, cosmetic dentistry, and much more. Contact us at (805) 522-6020 or visit our location in Simi Valley, CA! We look forward to working with you.