If you’ve suffered from dental anxiety for years, your teeth unfortunately have probably suffered too. Staying away from the dentist office in order to avoid what might happen once you sit down in the dental chair will likely lead to missed opportunities for the dentist to catch issues while they are still small, and inexpensive.
Ready to move past your dental anxiety?
Why Dental Anxiety is So Harmful
Dental anxiety is more than just feeling nervous on the day of your dental exam. If you’re scared of the dentist’s office, you’re less likely to schedule regular appointments for cleanings and exams. And this can add up to cavities, gingivitis, and other problems not being diagnosed while still in their infancy.
Common Causes of Dental Anxiety
Each person’s anxiety is personal and unique to their past experiences, but there are some universal factors that tend to cause build up of fear, especially when it comes to the dentist. The top contributing factors to one’s dental anxiety are:
Negative Past Experiences With a Dentist
Often happening during childhood, an uncomfortable dental exam or procedure that caused you pain and discomfort in the past suppresses itself into your memory and everytime you find yourself walking through the doors of a dentist office brings back feelings of unpleasant smells, sounds and unexpected pain. These types of negative experiences can linger with a patient for years and prevent them from feeling good about future care.
Feeling Helpless With No Control
Receiving dental care puts you in a unique position. Your face is incredibly close to the dentist and hygienist, and having someone peering into your mouth spouting out numbers and dental terms can be a bit uncomfortable. This feeling can be especially tough on anyone who finds social situations difficult.
Many patients with dental anxiety procrastinate with their exams, sometimes taking breaks between appointments. They can be very self conscious about dental problems that they may have developed during this time, and uncomfortable with showing their teeth and gums to someone. If you had a lot of cavities as a young child and have many old silver fillings in your teeth, this can also make people feel embarrassed, uncomfortable, or vulnerable.
Fear of the Unknown
The issue of not knowing exactly what’s going to happen and what you can expect when you visit the dentist can leave anyone feeling very anxious – especially when your checkbook is attached to that type of unknown.
Making Changes that Lead to You Loving the Dentist
First things first, it is possible to recover from phobia of the dentist and dental anxiety. Dr. Phillippi and his staff love helping anxious patients get more comfortable with their dental appointments so they can overcome the anxiety they feel for the dentist. Our top recommendations for eliminating your dental anxiety are:
- Schedule an exam ASAP. If you have severe dental anxiety, it’s probably been more than 6 months since you last had your teeth cleaned and examined. Getting back on a regular exam schedule will help to improve your anxiety by getting accustomed to sights and sounds with the dentist, and by likely avoiding serious dental problems because you will be receiving preventative care and catching issues while they are still minor and inexpensive.
- Be open with your dentist. Once we know that you’re feeling nervous, we can help talk you through your appointment. We aren’t’ always able to clearly see when a patient is uneasy, so please be direct so we can help make you comfortable.
- Book a morning appointment. Get your exam over with! Schedule the first appointment of the day so it’s not lingering over you throughout the day.
- Ask for dental sedation. Nitrous is easy to receive and helps to keep you feeling calm while preventing the body from triggering anxiety responses. A little inhale through a small mask over your nose with no needles involved could be the solution you’ve always hoped for.
- Listen to music. Bringing headphones and listening to something soothing during your appointment can help you feel relaxed and cancel out some of the dentist office noise.
- Find a dentist that you love. If you’re not comfortable with your dentist, find a new one! Look for a provider that makes you feel listened to and cared for when it comes to your comfort and state of relaxation.
Dr. Phillippi would love to help eliminate your dental anxiety and replace negative past experiences with positive ones for many years to come. Schedule an appointment today and be one step closer to anxiety-free dentistry.