Do you get anxious just thinking about going to the dentist? Does the idea scare you so much that you haven’t had your teeth checked out by a professional in almost a decade? Well, you’re not alone.
Dental anxiety, or the fear of receiving dental work or going to the dentist – sometimes referred to as dental phobia or odontophobia if the condition is serious – is pretty common. In one study, it was estimated that about 58.8% of people have some degree of dental anxiety, and that it was slightly more prevalent in women.
Having anxiety isn’t the problem, but not getting treated because of it is. The CDC conducted a study that found that over 64 million U.S. adults (over the age of 30) had periodontitis – an infection that can destroy gums and jawlines. That’s only slightly less than half the U.S. adult population, which is pretty serious.
To make sure you have good oral health for years to come, you need to visit the dentist regularly. Depending on the condition of your health, it is suggested you go into a dental office about twice a year. Here’s how you can overcome your fears and get your teeth checked:
- Get a diagnosis from a health professional: You can book an appointment with a dental office to simply receive a consultation. No tools or medication needed! There, you and the dentist can discuss your dental anxiety, and depending on the severity of your condition, the dentist may refer you to a specialized clinic to get an official diagnosis. It’s important to know whether you have an anxiety or a phobia, which is more severe and requires a different path to treatment. Simply understanding where you’re starting at is a great first step in overcoming this.
- Go with family or friends to their dental visits: Tag along with someone when they go to their next dental appointment so you can see firsthand that it doesn’t have to be a scary experience. This won’t be a magic fix for your anxiety, but it’s a great exercise that can help relieve some of your fears!
- Find a dental anxiety support group: Because it is so common to have it, support groups exist in just about every corner of the U.S. You can either search online for one in your city, or call any local dental office to see if they can refer you to one.
- Do some meditation exercises before your visit: We may not be mental health professionals, but we all know that meditation and breathing exercises have helped people with anxiety for a myriad of issues. There is plenty of content online on how mindfulness exercises have helped others deal with dentist visits.
- Find your best distraction tool: Many of us have a few things that can completely take over our focus. For some, it’s a good audiobook or a conversation with a loved one. But the power of music is often used to reduce stress in many situations, both at home and across various health and therapy practices. Dentists will often encourage patients to bring earbuds and listen to music, and many offices provide TVs in the rooms that you can watch. Having these kinds of distractions while getting your oral exam can help with pain and fear management.
Need to talk to a dentist about your anxiety? We’re here to help! Click here or call us today at 562-434-6414.