Overcoming Dental Anxiety

Although they are already withering in pain, many still hesitate to visit a dentist. The thought of having the “tooth doctor” take a look at their opened mouth and take out the bad tooth right in front of them is just too horrid to imagine. The needle. The blood. It’s just too much!

Majority of those experiencing toothache would rather drown themselves in pain killers, hoping that the pain would go away. But the only thing these pills do for them is prolong their agony. The pain goes for a while and then comes back again with a vengeance. What are these people thinking? Isn’t it much better to have the thing pulled out to end their misery? Sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

What I didn’t realize is that the fear of going to the dentist is a serious problem. The anxiety associated with it could make someone go through moments of panic, breathlessness, nausea, heart palpitations, among others. But more than the anxiety, the real problem lies in the avoidance. Avoiding dental appointments could lead to infections that can jeopardize one’s health. To prevent this, here are a few tips to manage and deal with your dental anxiety before it turns worse and life threatening

1. Go to a dentist you trust:  Having to undergo any dental procedure is much easier for any patient when they know that they can trust their dentist. When they are confident that their doctor knows what they are doing and that they will be taken care of for the entire procedure, dental anxiety and fear will be greatly reduced.

To feel safe and assured that you will be treated appropriately, ask your family or your friends if they personally know someone. Ask them if this dentist is really competent and proficient in his craft. More importantly, ask them how this dentist fair in the bedside manners category. An assuring and friendly doctor will help make the procedure less of an ordeal.

2. Do some recon: To help ease the nerves, do a little bit of recon. Gain some information about your dentist, the procedure, and his office’s accommodations and utilities. Contact his office and inquire about his clinic’s atmosphere. Ask how long the procedure will take and how this process will be performed. Inquire what type of sedatives he uses and check out the internet to get a more detailed description of these chemicals. Knowing what to expect during your visit will alleviate some of your worries.

3. Prepare your teeth and gums: Before leaving for your appointment, brush your teeth carefully. Do not forget to gargle and floss as well. Doing this last minute preparations to reduce mouth odors will spare you the embarrassment when your dentist takes a look and sees the state of your teeth.

4. Try sedation: If you are one of those with severe cases of dental anxiety, consider taking the procedure under nitrous oxide or other sedating gas or drug. There are dentists who practice this. Ask your doctor if he is one.

 5. Talk to your doctor: To get over your anxiety, talk to your dentist about it. Share that you have a fear for dentists and other dental procedures. Informing him of your fear will guide him to take extra care and attention to your pains. He will be gentler with his approach and from time to time will adjust the anesthetic to suit your needs.

6. Assign hand signals: Since your ability to speak and utter your needs will be hampered for the whole duration of the procedure, establish a communication system with your dentist. Tell him that you will be using some hand signals to signify any experience of discomfort or pain. Inform him that you will be raising your hand if you feel any pain during the dental procedure.

7. Listen to music or watch TV: During a dental procedure, bring with you your iPod or mp3 player. If your dentist allows it, play a song and listen to it to help your muscles relax. You can choose any type as long as the choice will keep you calm and distracted from the procedure.

Watching TV will also provide a good distraction from your phobia. If the clinic has one, ask to have it turned on.

8. Practice deep breathing: For any anxiety-causing activity, always remember to practice deep breathing exercises. Having enough oxygen inside your lungs and into your brain will help reduce your feelings of anxiety.

9. Take breaks when your anxiety builds up, do not be afraid to signal for a break. You need to take some breather especially for procedures that take too long to finish.

10. Bring your “person”: Have your friend or your “person” accompany you to your dreaded appointment. While waiting for your turn on the table, chat with him or her to dissipate some of your worries. Just make sure this “person” does not share your fear of dentists.

Regular dental care is vital for your health. Do not let your fear of pain or dentists come in the way. Practice these techniques and your dental anxiety will gradually be solved.




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