Overcoming Anxiety at the Dentist
For many people, regular visits to the dentist’s office can be a source of anxiety. Sometimes this can even be enough to cause them to avoid going at the cost of their own dental health.Unfounded anticipation of pain, embarrassment, worrying about problems that may be found may all contribute to this anxiety. Going to the dentist today can be a pain free experience and there are many advances to help those with this issue to overcome their fears. Sedation options are available, in various forms and there are also many ways for patients to help to themselves, along with their dentist.
One easy thing to do is to focus on breathing. Slow, deep breaths will counteract the tendency to hold your breath or take short shallow breaths when nervous. Studies have shown that a high-protein meal can help you relax. Listening to music on your headphones is another technique that can be helpful, and visualizing a beach or comforting memory has been shown to have a calming effect in stressful situations as well.
If these techniques don’t work for you, however, many dentists now offer “sedation dentistry.” There are varying techniques and levels of sedation dentists use, depending on the patient and procedure, but most will put the patient in a relaxed state. The most common, and most mild type is nitrous oxide, often referred to as “laughing gas.” This gas helps you relax, and the levels can be completely controlled by the dentist. Being the most mild type, it’s the only form of sedation that allows you to drive yourself home after you’re finished.
Most every dentist has encountered someone with dental anxiety, and they will completely understand your feelings, and do whatever they can to help. The most important step in the process of overcoming anxiety is communicating with your dentist. So if you feel nervous when having your teeth worked on, take the time to let them know how you feel. That alone can relieve a lot of stress and lead to a positive experience and a lifetime of dental health.