Coping With Dental Visits When You Have Anxiety
Unfortunately, many people experience anxiety over visiting the dentist. Sometimes, the anxiety can be so bad that it prevents you from seeing a dentist at all -- almost 40 million Americans avoid the dentist because of fear. Not seeing the dentist regularly can actually make anxiety worse, because without early intervention, tooth problems can become painful and expensive.
If you have anxiety over seeing the dentist, here are some methods you can consider to help yourself cope in order to get the care you need.
1. Consider Sedation Dentistry
Not ever dentist office will offer full sedation for regular dental procedures, but some dentists specialize in sedation dentistry, even for routine care. Usually, sedation does not mean going fully to sleep. Instead, dentists will offer nitrous oxide or "laughing gas" to help you feel more calm about the procedure. You'll find you won't care as much about what is going on in the dentist's office, even though you'll still be awake enough to communicate. Nitrous oxide is safe for most patients and does not have lasting side effects.
Your mind is a powerful tool. If you know you have a visit to the dentist coming up, you can prepare yourself with meditation and learned calming techniques. For example, you could teach yourself deep breathing and recite affirmations like, "My body needs the right treatments to stay healthy," and "I am in control of my emotions, even when I feel afraid." Reciting these statements daily may actually change the way you think about your fears, and you'll gain the ability to calm yourself when you feel a wave of panic.
3. Take Counseling
For deeply rooted phobias, you might need coaching to fully overcome your worries. Reach out to a counselor in your area to guide through coping techniques and to investigate why you feel the way you do about seeing the dentist. Professional help can be very effective, especially if you give it some time and effort.
4. Bring a Friend
Finally, nothing can help you more than having a supportive person at your side for your procedure. Have a person you trust come with you for all procedures to talk with you and distract you from your discomfort. Make a plan together for what you will do if you are feeling overwhelmed.
If you're still concerned about your fear, contact an office that provides sedation dentistry for anxious patients.