Having dental anxiety is extremely normal, whether you are heading in for specialist orthodontic work or just dealing with general dentistry appointments. Most people are somewhat uncomfortable going to the dentist. To try and control your anxiety, you can take a few of these simple steps.
Start with Prevention
The best way to avoid fearful dentist visits is to take care of your teeth all along so that serious and possibly uncomfortable work doesn’t need to be done at all. Brush at least twice a day, along with regular flossing will keep your mouth healthy. Don’t skip out on the annual check-up or cleaning appointment either.
A lot of dental anxiety stems from being afraid of the unknown. Sitting in the chair for some procedure you don’t fully understand to have unexpected things done to you is enough to make anyone afraid. Take the time to talk with the dentist and get a complete run-down of what is going to happen beforehand.
Tell Your Dentist
This sort of goes along with the last tip. Let your dentist know before your appointment that you are fearful of the procedure. A considerate dentist will take your nervousness into account, allowing for additional breaks and pauses during the appointment. They may also change the techniques they use to make it as painless as possible. You could also talk to them about additional “laughing gas” or other mild sedatives to help keep you relaxed.
Of course, every dentist is different and you may not have one with a compassionate bedside manner. In such a case, you may want to find another dental professional.
Ask if it’s OK with the dentist to listen to music during your procedure, either with headphones or aloud in the room. Headphones can be awkward if the wires interfere with what’s going on, so ask beforehand what works best.
Another way to get your mind off of what’s going on is to bring a friend along. While it may not be a fun afternoon to sit in a dentist office, a good friend will be willing to go along with you. It can be a comfort to have a familiar face, and it can be distracting to have a little conversation going on that doesn’t constantly involve the dentist.
One small detail that some people tend to miss is that negative experiences at the dentist during childhood are probably not any indications of what to expect today. Techniques, tools and materials have changed quite a bit over the past few decades and the painful experiences you have had in the past aren’t likely to happen again, even for the same procedures.
One point that must be stressed is that you should not let your fear come between you and proper health care. Putting up with a sore tooth because you are afraid can (and almost certainly will) lead to more severe complications later on. It can become an abscess, or you could develop more widespread infections from a decaying tooth.