Regular visits to the dentist are important for maintaining good oral health but anxiety or fear of the dentist keeps many Americans from visiting on a regular basis. In fact, a 2009 study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that dental anxiety causes up to 50 percent of adults to avoid dental visits altogether. Maintaining good dental health is crucial for our overall health and avoiding adequate care from the dentist could put us at risk for other health complications. While dental anxiety may be strong enough to cause some to miss out on the dental care that they need, it is possible to overcome.
Dental anxiety may be triggered by a number of factors and it typically develops in people when they are young. This fear could be passed down from parents who exhibit dental anxiety themselves or brought on by a traumatic dental experience. Dentists today are more in tune with dental anxiety and their tools and procedures are more comfortable to the patients than they have been in the past. While these efforts from dentists can help patients overcome dental anxiety, there are several ways that people can work to overcome their own fears of the dentist. Here are some of the best methods for confronting dental anxiety.
Communication/ the Right Dentist:
Finding the right dentist is crucial for overcoming dental anxiety. One of the major factors behind dental anxiety is having no knowledge or control of the situation which causes patients to feel helpless. A good dentist will openly communicate with the patient and make them aware of every step in the procedure so that they know what is happening and what to expect. This can put a patient at ease by giving them a sense of control as well as a part in the decision making. A dentist who communicates well with the patient can also discuss their specific fears and concerns with them to make the procedure more comfortable and allow for breaks during the procedure if needed by the patient.
Another good way to overcome dental anxiety is with certain distractions that take the mind off the procedure. Some effective distractions include meditation, listening to music, or watching TV or a movie. Listening to music or the sound of a movie through headphones will drown out the noises of the dentist which can help decrease anxiety and make it easier to forget about the procedure. Muscle relaxation techniques and daydreaming are also good ways to keep the mind distracted.
People who suffer from dental anxiety may start to feel the pressure as a dentist appointment approaches. Practicing deep breathing techniques just before an appointment can help a patient relax and ease their anxiety. This technique works best with slow, deep breaths that increase oxygen flow and calm the mind and body.
People can suffer from different degrees of dental anxiety and patients with more extreme anxiety may benefit from mild sedatives or medications. These medications can help people sleep the night before a dentist appointment and help their bodies relax and avoid sweats and panic attacks that may occur as a result of severe anxiety. As people become more comfortable at the dentist, they can decrease their dosage with each visit.
By choosing a good dentist and putting forth an effort to curb feelings of fear, dental anxiety can be conquered. Maintaining good dental health is crucial to our general health which makes it important to visit the dentist regularly. Confronting dental anxiety becomes easier with each visit and discussing fears and anxiety with your dentist will help you overcome them and visit the dentist regularly in confidence.