If the thought of going to the dentist leaves you with sweaty palms and racing thoughts, you are not alone. In fact, up to 20% of Americans avoid going to the dentist due to their anxiety. While it’s perfectly natural to be a little anxious about your oral health, people with a dental phobia often face irrational fears and panic attacks when confronted with even the most routine dental appointments.
People with dental anxiety can usually attribute their uneasiness to a few different causes. The first cause is a fear of pain. This fear usually comes from a poor dental experience during childhood, or even from dental “horror” stories told by friends. Thankfully, there have been a number of advances made in the oral health field, and many procedures nowadays are either less painful or completely pain-free! Along with this fear of pain, people are often stressed out by the injections dentists use. This can stem from a fear of needles or simply a dislike of the anesthetic side effects.
Beyond the unknown pain associated with dental procedures, those that are afraid of the dentist often admit to feeling helpless. This can stem from the fact that you’re unable to see what’s going on during your procedure. In addition, people also get embarrassed by their dentist’s close proximity to their face and mouth. This can lead to feelings of discomfort and self-consciousness about the overall appearance of a person’s teeth or fear of bodily odors.
Thankfully, there are ways to lessen your fears! Remember that your dentist is there to help keep you and your teeth healthy. Create an open dialogue with them about your fears. Dentists encounter fearful patients on a regular basis, so any good practitioner should be more than willing to help make the experience better for their patient. If they dismiss your fears, find another dentist. In talking about your treatment plan, you have a better idea of what to expect and can mentally prepare. This can help alleviate those feelings of helplessness and fear of the unknown.
Another tactic that can be helpful while you’re in the dental chair is communicating a system with your dentist for when they should stop what they’re doing. This can be something as simple as raising your hand. This can help ease the tension caused by the lack of control some people feel in the dental office. Use this system to signal when you need to rinse your mouth, ask a question, or simply need a break.
Whether you’re a young adult that’s new to booking your own dental appointment or someone who hasn’t been to the dentist in awhile, it’s natural to be a little nervous. If these nerves get in the way of your overall health, however, it may be worth discovering the cause and finding a coping mechanism that works for you. By recognizing where your fears come from, you and your dentist can take the steps needed to make your next appointment a smooth one.
Ready to take that first step? Give our experienced and friendly dental team in Long Beach a call. We are happy to help walk you through your appointment and help you achieve optimal oral health! Give us a call at 562-434-6414 or request an appointment here.