Curb your dental anxiety with these tips
We understand that people overthink their visit to the dentist. And many become fearful of imaginary discomfort. You aren’t alone in feeling anxiety before a visit to the dentist’s office.
How common is dental phobia?
Nearly 1 in 2 Canadians have admitted to a “strong fear of the dentist”, according to Statistics Canada. The Canadian Dental Association says up to 22% of patients have extreme dental anxiety! Basically, most people feel some level of anxiety when they have to visit the dentist.
Being nervous is not a bad thing, but if it stops you from seeing the dentist regularly, it can be. If you put off getting regular check-ups, you may require emergency treatment further down the line.
How can I overcome dental anxiety?
Remember this: anxiety will only build up if you don’t see your dentist often. If your teeth are looked after, you are less likely to be surprised by a sudden problem or require an emergency procedure. Here are a few tips to help you get through your fear of the dentist and reduce your dental anxiety.
Talk about it
Talk to your friends, family, and your dentist about your dental phobia. Getting your fear off your chest will make a world of difference. People close to you can help put your fears in perspective and answer questions you have. Tell your dentist about your anxiety too. They’ll be happy to explain the procedure and take steps to keep you comfortable.
For many, dental phobia stems from not knowing enough about dental procedures. Don’t be shy. Ask the dentist, hygienist, and surgeon all the questions you want. The more you know, the lesser the fear of the unknown. If you want, you can agree on a signal with your dental professional – such as raising a hand – to signal you need a break.
Distract yourself with music
Listening to music, reading a book, or watching YouTube is a great way to distract yourself before and during the exam. It also helps drown out the sound of drills and water picks. It’ll help the time pass by faster and you won’t even realize how quickly the procedure is over.
Avoid caffeine and high energy foods
Thinking of having a coffee or sweets before a dentist’s appointment? They are probably not going to help your fear of the dentist. In fact, they will likely increase your dental anxiety. Coffee and energy drinks raise your alertness and foods high in sugar make you restless. Foods rich in proteins are a better bet as they have a more calming effect.
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Sedation dentistry – an option
Sedation and anesthesia immediately conjure images of being unconscious in the dentist’s chair. There are numerous sedation options that are less extreme than general anesthesia. A dental clinic can use gels and local anesthetics to ease your anxiety about pain.
There are a number of sedation options available that provide different levels of sedation:
Nitrous oxide – Also known as “laughing gas”, it is inhaled and helps you relax.
Oral sedation – Taken as a pill, oral sedation makes you drowsy though will not put you to sleep.
IV sedation – The sedative is provided through a vein, allowing the dentist to adjust the level of sedation.
General anesthesia – Near- or total unconsciousness which means you will not be awake for the procedure.
It is perfectly normal to feel afraid of coming to the dentists. That’s why we create such a calming environment at all Dawson Dental clinics to help you relax and unwind. Our dental professionals are attentive to your needs and will find the most suitable sedation for you.