How to Overcome Your Dental Anxiety

dental anxiety

We all have fears, even into adulthood. Some of us can’t talk in front of large crowds, and others struggle in small, enclosed spaces. There’s another source of anxiety that more than 15% of adults can understand: going to the dentist!

Dental anxiety, a fear of dental offices and procedures, is a common condition. It ranges from mild to severe, but it’s manageable at both ends of the spectrum. There are many strategies available to get the dental care you need without any paralyzing pangs of anxiety. 

Consider these ideas to take control of your dental anxiety and make your next dentist appointment much more enjoyable. 

Defining Dental Anxiety

Dental anxiety creates fear and uneasiness about upcoming dental appointments and procedures. Some people with moderate anxiety can push through their fears. But others find it too difficult to even walk in the door or sit down in the chair. 

There are a few different factors that may be triggering your dental anxiety. Do any of these sound familiar to you?

Fear of pain: The mouth is a highly sensitive area. Anxious patients often dread the discomfort they might experience during a cavity filling or root canal. Even if the procedures themselves don’t hurt, the fear and anticipation of potential pain can feel even worse.

Fear of Embarrassment: Other patients may fear the potential embarrassment of a dental appointment more than the work being done. This is especially true for people who don’t like other people entering their personal space. Dental work requires close contact that leads to self-conscious worries about appearance and odor of the mouth or face. 

Side effects: Patients with dental anxiety also consider the side effects of dental procedures. Even if the side effects are rare or unlikely, they create fear that becomes paralyzing.

Loss of control: Nobody likes to lose control, but those with dental anxiety feel especially helpless when laying in the dentist’s chair, mouth wide open. It’s difficult to observe surroundings or talk during dental procedures, leading to a sense of helplessness that quickly triggers anxiety. 

People who avoid the dentist as a result of severe face a high risk of oral health complications. Tooth decay, infection, and gum disease, to name a few.  

You don’t need to allow your dental health to remain defined by your anxiety. Try one of the following strategies to minimize or eliminate your dental anxiety. It’s time to get the care and attention you need!

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is a colorless and odorless gas used in the lightest form of sedation dentistry. Laughing gas is very popular because it’s safe and easy to control, even for children. 

Unlike other forms of sedation that require IVs or injections, laughing gas is easily administered through a face mask. As you inhale nitrous oxide, it gradually slows your body’s reaction time. Without immediate responses to pain and fear, anxiety decreases. This gives you the opportunity to coast through your dental appointment feeling calm and relaxed. 

Laughing gas is also the first choice in dental sedation because it doesn’t knock you out or cause a long recovery period. You remain awake and alert while using laughing gas, but with the added benefit of feeling relaxed and unaware of pain. Nitrous oxide also wears off quickly, so you feel normal as you walk out of your procedure. 

Oral Conscious Sedation

Oral conscious sedation is also a simple way to combat dental anxiety and bring more comfort to each dental appointment. It involves taking a small sedative pill at a predetermined time before your appointment. Keep in mind that a trusted family member or friend must drive you to and from your appointment to ensure safety. 

Using oral conscious sedation, you remain conscious throughout your appointment but feel entirely relaxed and at ease. You’ll know exactly what’s happening, but you’ll feel safe and calm. No nerves or anxiety at all! 

Share Your Fears

Your dentist is talented in many areas, but he isn’t a mind reader. If you want your dentist to help you cope with your dental anxiety, you first need to be honest about your feelings. 

You don’t have to feel embarrassed by or ashamed of your dental anxiety. Dentists are professionals who understand that every patient faces unique oral health challenges. You can trust that you are in a judgement-free zone where your feelings will be appreciated and validated. 

Sharing your feelings and fears with your dentist will help to ensure that your treatments and procedures are completed in a way that calms, soothes, and reassures you every step of the way. 

Listen to Music

Music may ease your fears as well by distracting you from the noises and activities occurring around you. Instead of focusing on the sounds of clinking tools, you can enjoy your favorite songs. This is also a mood booster, which may help you approach your appointment with more positivity. 

Agree on Hand Signals

You might feel anxious because you assume you are helpless to take any control over your dental care. There is an easy solution to this problem! Just develop a signal with your hygienist and dentist so that they know when you need a break or are in pain. This puts you back in control of your dental experience and ensures that you won’t have to endure pain and discomfort.

Find the Right Dentist

More than anything else, the right dentist is your key to tackling dental anxiety. That’s why Dr. Claudia and her team at Ablantis Dental in Encinitas, California are dedicated to providing a variety of dental anxiety treatments plans. Dr. Claudia’s experience, compassion, and attention-to-detail help all patients enjoy high-quality dental care in a comfortable environment. 

Call Ablantis Dental today to learn more and schedule your first appointment in Encinitas.