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Dental Anxiety Management 101: Top Tips to Reducing Dentist Office Fears

Monday, December 21, 2020

In 2019, more than 64 percent of adults above 18 years had a dental visit. About 36% of the people visiting a dentist experience dental anxiety, with more than 12% going through extreme dental fear.

It's clear visiting the dentist isn’t an activity most people look forward to.

It is crucial to know how to address this fear as dental visits are inevitable. This guide has delved deeper into dental anxiety management and tips to help you deal with this fear and anxiety.


What Is Dental Anxiety?

Dental anxiety refers to a condition where someone suffers extreme nervousness, panic, and fear over the thought of visiting a dentist. It can manifest as severe symptoms in extreme cases. This anxiety and fear bar people from visiting a dentist even when they need to.

Some wait until the damage is too substantial to go to a dentist, while others visit the dentist when the pain has become intense. The thought of triggers such as drills, needles, or the typical dental clinic setup makes it harder for some people.

Dental anxiety often manifests through symptoms such as;

  • Visible distress and other signs of panic
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Use of aggression, withdrawal, or humor to mask the anxiety
  • Low blood pressure and, in extreme cases, fainting
  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Upset Stomach

Tips for Dental Anxiety Management

If you have been struggling with dental fear and anxiety, you might want to check out these dental anxiety management tools to help with the situation. Fortunately, several strategies can help you with this. Here are some of the helpful tips that you can check out;

Speak About It

Dental anxiety will be less overwhelming if you share how you feel. You’d feel better if you told your dentist how nervous you feel. In fact, it would be best to inform the receptionist the minute you get to the clinic and the entire dental team.

You can share any bad experience with the team, and explain how it has affected your view of the dentist visits. Ask questions to give you insights into the procedure. The information you get will play a considerable role in alleviating any fears that you might be having.

It would also help to agree on a signal like raising your hands when you need to break for a few minutes during the exam. What’s more, you should be open if you experience any pain when getting the anesthesia. You can have your dentist understand your tolerance level during the procedure.

Consider Laser Dentistry

Getting over dental anxiety might mean considering dental techniques that minimize pain. Trying laser dentistry is one of the approaches that can help in dental anxiety management. If your anxiety results from anticipated pain, you can consider a laser dentistry procedure as it is pain-free.

Laser dental treatment involves using a concentrated beam of light to treat several dental issues. The light works by shaping or removing a tissue once it hits it. Your dentist will painlessly remove problematic tissues and address tooth decay with this technique.

You don't have to subject yourself to the drilling if it makes you nervous. Laser dentistry is less dramatic and quite effective. The recovery time reduces, and the risk of bacterial infection is almost zero.

Note that not all dental clinics offer laser dentistry procedures. When looking for the best dental clinic near you, consider one that provides this service to avoid last-minute frustrations. Chances are that the website has listed the procedure if they have it.

Mindfulness Techniques

'It's all in the mind!' This widely used cliché is often misquoted, but it's true. Relaxation has to start in the mind as the organ controls all others in the body.

As part of dental anxiety management, you might want to consider mindfulness as a technique. One way you can do this is by counting your breaths before seeing the dentist. Inhale and exhale slowly as you count your breaths.

Another approach is muscle relaxation, which you can do each part of the body at a time. You can start with head relaxation as you go to the toes. Ensure that each body part doesn’t have any tension as you wait for your appointment.

Anxiety Relieving Medication

The Academy of General Dentistry reported that 40 million Americans fear visiting a dentist. Given the extreme pain and impact of dental problems, dentists have medications that they recommend for people who want to know how to get rid of dental anxiety.

One of the anti-anxiety drugs that a dentist might recommend is diazepam. It is ideally taken an hour before visiting the doctor. Some dentists recommend nitrous oxide, which is used to calm nerves.

For invasive surgeries, general anesthesia can help to address anxiety. You might want to inform your dentist about any medications you have or your health conditions, as some drugs might cause more harm.

Practice Self-Distraction

It's almost impossible to get your mind off a pending dental exam. The more you think about it, the more you become nervous. It is crucial to distract your thought to reduce dental anxiety.

You can have your hands occupied with a fidget spinner or a stress ball. Squeezing the ball will help your mind to refocus on other things. Wearing headphones is another great option, especially if the drilling sound is a bother.

Some dental clinics have screens or music to distract you. During the consultation, you can ask your dentist about the techniques they use at the clinic for dental anxiety management.

Dental Anxiety Management Is a Common Problem

Many people find visits to the dentist quite frightening. Others can even endure the pain of a decaying tooth as the thought of visiting a dental clinic is unwelcome. It is vital to consider dental anxiety management tips as the fear of visiting a dentist can have devastating impacts.

Some dental clinics have put strategies in place to address dental anxiety. You can ask your dentist in advance to know how you can rest easy as you wait for the procedure.

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