If you are apprehensive about showing up for your regular dental check-up or if you stay away from our office because of strong feelings of fear or anxiety, you are not alone. Dental anxiety and dental phobia are extremely common. Be assured, there are things we can do to help!
Dental anxiety can affect anyone and develop at any age. While there isn’t one determined cause, here are four common reasons why you might be feeling uneasy at the thought of heading to the dentist.
According to the American Dental Association, many patients associate their fear of going to the dentist with perceived pain. The thought of being uncomfortable during or after a visit is enough to spark anxiety.
- Loss of control
When you’re in the dental chair and you can’t see what’s going on or feel as though you can’t anticipate the next move, the helplessness you are feeling can trigger anxiety due to a lack of control of the situation.
Individuals might feel shame or embarrassment at the thought of someone looking inside their mouth, which requires physical closeness. If the patient is self-conscious about their teeth, this can cause anxious feelings.
- Past visits
A negative past experience can alter the way you look at your next visit to the dentist. If you felt pain, discomfort, or uneasiness during your last time in the dental chair, there is more of a chance that you’ll develop anxious triggers for the next appointment.
Symptoms of dental anxiety
Dental anxiety can range from a slight fear about going to a dentist or mild anxiety about the dental chair, to extreme phobia of anything that relates to the dentist. Do you have a form of dental anxiety? Some typical symptoms of a dental fear can be the following:
- You have trouble sleeping the night before your appointment.
- Your anxiety gets worse once you’re in the waiting room at the office.
- You feel like crying when you think about going to a dentist.
- The sight of dental instruments or a dental chair causes you stress.
- Just the thought of going to a dentist makes you feel physically sick.
- You panic or have trouble breathing during a dental exam.
How to cope with dental anxiety
Dental anxiety can prevent you from regularly keeping your dental appointments with us which is negative for your health. Your oral health is an essential component to your overall well-being, which means that it’s important to get to our office for your regular check-ups. In order to combat dental anxiety and improve your dental experience, start by trying some tricks to help you prepare and deal with those common triggers.
- Talk with Dr. Lemieux or Dr. Suter about your fears so that they are aware of your feelings.
- Ask us to describe what’s happening or going to happen at every stage of the procedure or exam.
- We’ll establish a signal, such as raising your hand when you need to take a break.
- Ask questions. Knowing the answers might alleviate the fear of the unknown.
- Put on headphones we provide for you to listen to your favorite music to drown out the sounds of the dental office.
- Squeeze a stress ball to release anxious feelings and fears.
- Practice mentally taking yourself to your “happy place,” where you will be more relaxed.
- Incorporate relaxation and meditation techniques that can help ease your mind before and during your appointment.
If you’re afraid of the dentist or have strong fears or anxieties about sitting in the dental chair, reach out to us, Dr. Steven B. Lemieux & Associates. We are empathetic and understanding to your needs and we can help you through the journey so that your dental health doesn’t get left behind.