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Dental Anxiety

If you suffer from dental anxiety, you are not alone! Forty million Americans are so afraid of the dentist that they avoid going altogether, according to Columbia University College of Dental Medicine.

Why is there such a high fear factor when it comes to the dentist? There are numerous reasons why people experience dental anxiety. Pain is the primary shared fear, followed by the worry that the dentist may hurry them out of the dental chair and miss an important concern. Additional to that, many people have bad memories of going to the dentist as kids, and for others, just the smell of the dental office can trigger an anxiety.

One thing however is certain; if these feelings of anxiety are not addressed, it will lead to avoidance of the dentist which in turn can lead to serious oral health problems often resulting in a need for more involved and expensive dental treatment down the line.

Talk About It

One way to lower anxiety levels is for you to talk with your dentist about your fears. Often a dentist can bring you comfort just by answering your questions and educating you about your dental needs. It is important to remember that dentists are trained to treat patients who are frightened. Often they have methods of intervention such as medication or sedation.

Keep Calm and See Your Dentist

If you are nervous about visiting the dentist, try these tips:

SPEAK ABOUT YOUR FEARS. Tell your dentist and his staff about your anxiety. Sharing your concerns helps your dentist determine the best way to help you get through treatment.

REGULATE YOUR BREATHING. People tend to hold their breath when nervous, which leads to lower oxygen levels. Less oxygen can make the body feel pain more acutely. Try breathing in a slow, measured manner to reduce your stress.

LISTEN TO MUSIC. Bring along your earphones and favorite music to drown out the sound of the drill.

BE MINDFUL OF YOUR FOOD CHOICES. Definitely don’t go for that double espresso before hitting the dental chair. Caffeine can make you jittery. Instead, make sure to avoid sugary treats and eat high-protein foods instead. The right foods can make you feel calmer.

PRE-ARRANGE SIGNALS WITH YOUR DENTIST. Decide on some hand signals with your dental team before starting the procedure. This will let you communicate any feelings of discomfort and give you a greater feeling of control.

CHOOSE A NON-PRESSURED TIME FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT. Pick a time for your dental visit when you aren’t expected to be elsewhere or have other obligations. Early morning or late evening appointments or weekends may work better for you.

FEEL CONFIDENT IN YOUR DENTIST. Getting a good recommendation from friends and family for your dentist can allay your worries. Knowing you are being cared for by a competent doctor will make you feel more relaxed.