Dental anxiety, or dentophobia, is a common fear, one often rooted in a traumatic childhood experience. As many as one in five Americans only go to the dentist when absolutely necessary, and 5 to 8 percent of people are so anxious, they refuse dental treatment of any kind.
Don’t let your dental anxiety prevent you from receiving the tooth and gum care you need! You can always seek anesthesia, laughing gas, or sedation for pain control during restorative dental treatments. However, if you can’t tolerate medications used for relaxation, try these five alternative techniques to calm your nerves during routine visits to see Dr. Evanson.
Communicate Your Concerns
The first step is to bring up your anxiety with your dentist. Here at Evanson DDS, we want you to feel comfortable in our office, so if you’re feeling anxious, please let us know. We’ll make a longer appointment window for you so we can move at a pace you feel comfortable with.
We can also give you a detailed rundown of what your visit will entail and establish a signal you can give Dr. Evanson or one of our hygienists if you start to feel overwhelmed. Knowing you’re in control of the situation should help ease your anxiety.
Feel free to bring a music player and headphones to your appointment so you can listen to soothing tunes as a distraction. Close your eyes and focus on the music rather than what the dentist is doing to make the visit go faster.
Even if you don’t have music to listen to, you can distract yourself with a technique called guided imagery. This is when you picture yourself in a pleasant place, such as sitting on the beach or taking a walk through a forest. Close your eyes and imagine you’re in this tranquil setting. The more detail you add to the image, the less focused you’ll be on the dental procedure.
Relax Your Body & Take Deep Breaths
A technique called progressive relaxation is when you focus on relaxing individual body parts starting with your toes and working all the way up to your head. Focusing on muscle relaxation could help calm you down when you start feeling anxious in the dentist chair. This technique works best if you take deep, relaxing breaths at the same time.
Try Acupuncture or Acupressure
If you try the above techniques, but you still feel too anxious to sit through a dental procedure, try seeking help from an acupuncturist. This ancient Chinese treatment stimulates trigger points in your body with very fine needles, which can help relieve pain and anxiety.
If your fear of the dentist stems from a fear of needles, a similar needle-free technique called acupressure may be a better option. An acupuncture or acupressure session right before a dentist appointment can be very effective for calming your anxiety.
Join a Support Group or See a Therapist
If you’re so anxious that the mere thought of a dental visit makes your heart race, you could benefit from therapy sessions. Psychotherapy is one option. This is when you meet with a psychologist to help you understand where your fear comes from so you can make peace with it.
Some psychologists use a different technique called systematic desensitization to help patients overcome their phobias. This involves exposing you to your fear in a gradual, controlled manner until your anxiety dissipates and you can face going to the dentist with minimal stress.
Dr. Evanson Takes Dental Anxiety Seriously
You may be embarrassed about your fears, but dental anxiety is common and nothing to be ashamed of. The important thing is that you’re taking steps to overcome your fear so you feel comfortable enough to visit Dr. Evanson for important dental procedures.
To learn how we help calm your dental anxiety, please contact Evanson DDS online or call our Parker office at (720) 409-0008.Leave a reply →