Dental fear affects up to 36% of Americans, making it a common — and relatable — problem. Although dental phobia is common, the contributing factors behind the fear are diverse.
Maybe you heard of a friend’s poor experience at the dentist, or you had a complicated procedure when you were younger and the fear stuck around. Perhaps your fears are rooted in the unknown: What will happen during your appointment? Will it hurt? How long will it take?
We understand the complicated psychology behind dental fear, and if that fear is keeping you from getting the dental care you need, we can help. The experts at A Caring Dental Group in Cleveland, Ohio, want to help you feel more confident during any dental procedure or treatment. Here, we share five smart strategies for overcoming anxiety about going to the dentist.
Combat fear with knowledge
Fear of the unknown is one of the greatest fears for all people, even if they’re not awaiting a dental procedure such as a root canal. If visiting the dentist makes you feel anxious, we’re more than happy to walk you through your visit and explain everything in detail before we begin. Here are a few questions you could ask to get started:
- What happens during each step of the procedure?
- How will I benefit from this procedure?
- How long does it take?
- Will it hurt? What are my pain relief options?
- What should I expect after my procedure?
Knowledge can be empowering. In fact, research shows that learning facts about a topic can reduce fear, so feel free to talk to us openly about your concerns.
Some people prefer to know what’s happening at each step, but others may find that hyperfocusing during a procedure can make the anxious feelings worse. If you fall into the latter group, distractions may work quite well to ease your mind during your appointment.
Not sure how to distract yourself in the dentist’s chair? Try some of these strategies:
- Bring your earbuds, and listen to music, a podcast, or an audiobook
- Listen to guided meditations — there are some that specifically focus on anxiety, fear, and pain
- Hold a fidget toy, or squeeze a stress ball
If you’d prefer not to know what’s happening during each step of your procedure, please let us know your preferences. If you’re feeling anxious, we’ll do our best to accommodate your needs and keep you as calm and relaxed as possible.
Determine the source of your anxiety
One way to combat dental anxiety is to determine what specifically is contributing to your anxiety. For most people, it comes down to three things: not knowing what to expect, the sounds of the dental equipment, and potential pain. Once you identify the things that contribute to fear, we can suggest potential solutions for you.
For instance, if the sounds of the dental drill bother you, you may find that wearing noise-canceling headphones is helpful. If potential pain is making you feel uneasy, we can discuss all of your anesthetic and sedation options.
Change your preferred appointment time
Scheduling your appointments earlier in the day can eliminate the stress and anxiety caused by thinking about your dentist visit all day long. The perk about earlier appointments is that once your appointment is finished, you can continue on with your day.
Learn about your sedation options
If the strategies above aren’t enough to combat your unease, know that you don’t have to suffer uncomfortably during your procedure. Sedation dentistry can help relax you so you can remain comfortable while in the dentist’s chair.
Nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas, is a popular sedation option. When you breathe in the colorless, odorless gas, you feel calm and relaxed, yet you’re still conscious. This mild sedative wears off quickly, so you can drive yourself home after your appointment.
Don’t let dental anxiety prevent you from getting needed dental care. Whether you’re due for a routine cleaning or more extensive work, we’re more than happy to discuss ways to make you more comfortable during your appointment. Give A Caring Dental Group a call at 216-230-9094 or schedule an appointment online.