Red toothbrush against a blue background.

How Dentists Work to Maintain Healthy Smiles, No Matter What

If you’re someone who tries to avoid the dentist’s office at all costs, chances are, you’ve haven’t had your smile examined and professionally cleaned in a while.

Even if you’re worried about what your dentist might find, it is essential that you overcome your anxieties and schedule an appointment.

Whether you haven’t had a trip to the dentist in one year or a decade, it is never too late to save your smile. This article will cover a few tips that should help you overcome your dental anxiety.

Why Are People Scared of Going to the Dentist?

People are different, which is why there are so many reasons people are afraid to go to the dentist. However, the most common reasons people are afraid going to the dentist fall under the following categories:

  • Past experiences and pain
  • Embarrassment
  • Lack of control

Experiences and Pain

Past experiences and pain is one of the most common reasons patients are apprehensive about going to the dentist. Sometimes, an experience at the dentist’s office is particularly unsettling. Common complaints include being overbilled by the office, an annoying dental assistant, an insensitive dentist, or an unthorough dental hygienist.

Unfortunately, such experiences happen every once in a while. However, you shouldn’t allow your past experiences to prevent you from going to dentist’s appointments in the future. Even if you don’t feel comfortable going to the same dental office, you can always go to another one.

It’s also helpful to inform the dental staff about your past experiences so that they can help ensure your future experiences are positive. With patience, you will eventually be able to find a team that is perfect for you.

Embarrassment

Embarrassment is another reason many people are embarrassed to go the dentist. Perhaps you haven’t had your teeth cleaned in years. You may feel embarrased about the condition of your teeth or worry about what your dentist will say to you. If shame or embarrassment is causing you to put off your dentist’s appointments, you should keep in mind that dental professionals have seen everything already. Rest assured that the condition of your teeth probably won’t be anything new to them.

Lack of Control

Lack of control is yet another common reason some patients suffer from dental anxiety. If this is the reason you’re putting off scheduling an appointment, you should let your assistant know how you feel at the beginning. If you want to take a break during the appointment and regain a sense of control, you can establish a signal like raising your hand.

Why You Shouldn’t Avoid the Dentist

Overcoming dental anxiety is essential if it’s causing you to avoid the dentist. For obvious reasons, people with dental phobia tend to suffer from early tooth loss and gum disease at higher rates. Damaged or yellow teeth can also make patients feel insecure and self-conscious, leading to a significant loss of self-esteem.

Poor dental hygiene due to dental phobia can lead to poorer health and even a lower life expectancy. The reason for this is that poor oral health is associated with lung infections and heart disease.

How to Overcome Fear of the Dentist

Sedation Dentistry

To overcome your dental anxiety, consider asking your dentist about sedation dentistry. At some offices, dentists will administer sedatives to their patients to keep them relaxed and calm during the appointment. Sedatives can encompass an oral or intravenous sedation, laughing gas (nitrous oxide), or a local anesthetic. However, keep in mind that not every dentist will be qualified to administer every type of sedative. Therefore, you should speak to your dentist beforehand to determine the sedative that is best for your needs.

Bring a Friend

Consider bringing a family member or close friend who doesn’t fear going to the dentist to provide you with support and comfort during the appointment. If possible, you should have the loved one accompany you during the procedure in the dentist’s office.

Distract Yourself

Distracting yourself is an effective way to overcome dental anxiety. There are some dentists who have installed televisions in the treatment room so that their patients can watch TV as a distraction. Other options include bringing headphones and your phone to listen to music or watch videos.

Self-Regulate Anxiety

To stay calm during dental treatments, you should learn a few self-regulation techniques. Deep breathing is a popular technique for relaxation. You should take a deep breath, hold the breath for a few seconds, and then let it out. This will help slow your heartbeat and relax your muscles.

Whether you need a cleaning, a root canal, or a cosmetic dentistry procedure performed, dental anxiety can make it difficult for you to take the first step and schedule an appointment. If you suffer from dental anxiety, following the tips above should help you overcome this fear eventually.

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