Dental phobia is a very common problem affecting up to 20% of Americans. Dental phobia can cause severe anxiety that although one may know they have it, it is difficult to control.
Here are some tools to help you overcome your fear of the dentist and make your next visit enjoyable!
1. Have an open discussion. Tell the receptionist when scheduling, assistant, hygienist or dentist of any dental anxiety you may have. Believe it or not, you are far from alone and there are many methods that can be used to ensure your comfort. Asking questions, having a “signal”, and sharing your experiences are great ways to provide your dental team with resources to meet your needs.
2. Distract yourself. Ask your dental team if you can bring a pair of headphones, stress ball, or something to fidget with. Some dental offices have televisions, radios, or DVDs.
3. Practice deep breathing exercises. Deep breathing exercises are a great way to calm your mind down wherever you are. Inhale through your nose then exhale slowly through your mouth, letting your body relax with the exhale and repeat as many times as needed. This not only helps physically relax you, but gives your mind something to focus on (counting, relaxing your body, etc).
4. Discuss with your dentist about sedative options. If you have tried to overcome your anxiety with no avail, some offices provide sedation options or nitrous oxide to help relax you during your visit.
5. Have a "stop" signal. Prior to your procedure, establishing a "stop" signal can help lessen any fears. At any point you would like to stop - even to take a breath, swallow, etc - you and your dentist have an understanding of when you need a break.
If you have a fear of the dentist, Drs. Morgan and Lemke strive to provide a comfortable visit, whether it be a consult or procedure. We have multiple options to help patient's with dental anxiety. Call our office for more information.