What is Dental Anxiety and What Can You Do About It?
Do you have a feeling of dread at just the thought of visiting the dentist? You are not alone! About 15% of Americans suffer from some form of dental anxiety or phobia. Dental fear often translates into people avoiding getting the necessary dental care, because they are too afraid to go to the dentist. Our focus at Affinity Contemporary Dentistry is to provide the highest quality dental care, in the most comfortable and compassionate environment possible. Our goal is for our patients to receive regular dental care, while minimizing any fear or anxiety.
Signs of Dental Anxiety or Phobia
Often the signs of dental anxiety start before you even schedule an appointment. These signs often include a general feeling of unease or panic when you think about the dentist, feelings of shame or discomfort even talking about going to the dentist, difficulty sleeping before a scheduled appointment, and increased feelings of panic or shift in behavior just getting to the dental office, let alone walking in.
Common Causes of Dental Anxiety
- Fear of the unknown
- Past negative or painful dental experiences
- The unfamiliar sounds of the drill or suction
- Feelings of helplessness or loss of control
- Embarrassment or fear of judgment
Tips to help overcome your dental fears and anxieties:
- Know your fear. Once you know exactly what you’re fearful about, you can start working towards a solution.
- Choose a great dentist and dental team: It is essential to choose a team who will take the time to listen, and genuinely cares about your personal and dental health. Your fears will likely only worsen if the dentist you choose isn’t right for you.
- Support. There are patients that find it comforting to take a friend along for support.
- Regain the feeling of control. Ask what to expect, especially regarding pain. You may find emotional relief from knowing what to expect with treatment. Ask your dentist to pre-warn you about the sensations you might experience. For instance, will it be a tingle or feel like a mosquito bite?
- Sedation. Don’t be afraid to ask for sedation options sedation if you think it may help.
- Relaxation Techniques. Learn about mindfulness, meditation and breathing techniques. They are great ways to reduce your anxiety.
- Seek professional help. The best course of action is to deal with the root cause of your fear. Unless you do this, you will always fear trips to the dentist. Do you really want to continue having to psych yourself up for every visit?
Weighted Blanket: Research has shown that weighted blankets are effective at reducing anxiety during dental appointments, and our patient’s that have tried them absolutely agree. Weighted blankets do this by applying a form of therapy called deep pressure touch (DTP) stimulation, or the “hugging” effect, on the body. DTP reduces activity in the nervous system, increases serotonin levels in the body, and helping your body to decrease anxiety, heart rate, blood pressure and balance mood. DTP also reduces the level of Cortisol, or the “stress hormone”, which may lead to improved mood and feeling of physical wellness.
Headphones: Distraction is a useful option to help reduce anxiety by taking the patient’s focus away from what they may see as unpleasant and onto a more enjoyable experience. Movies are great at holding someone’s attention and giving something them something to focus on instead of their symptoms of anxiety, and that helps create a more relaxed and positive environment. Music is an exceptional distraction because it is considered a combination of relaxation and distraction that in turn reduces anxiety and fear. The unfamiliar sounds associated with a dental visit can create or worsen anxiety, so we offer headphones that can be used for either music or a movie.
How Your Affinity Team Can Help
To put you more at ease during your visit, we offer aromatherapy, warmed lavender-scented neck wraps, weighted blankets, noise-canceling headphones so you can either listen to music or watch a movie on our ceiling-mounted televisions. For those that need something more, we also offer nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas” and several other sedation options. We provide many options to create a calm and relaxing environment, and we take the time to truly listen and address our patient’s needs. To further reduce your stress, we explain what to expect before and during your visit with us, and ensure that you feel like we are partners in achieving your optimum oral health.
Affinity Patient Comfort Menu
- Noise Canceling Headphones for Movies or Music
- Lavender Scented Neck Pillow
- Warm Peppermint Scented Washcloth
- Water, Coffee, Hot Chocolate, Cider or Tea
- Knee Pillow
- Knee Pillow
- Warm Blanket
- Weighted Blanket
- Lip Balm
We hope you remember that regular dental care will help ensure your overall best oral health. Let us help you take the worry out of your dental visits. Please contact our office today and schedule an appointment and see how things are different at Affinity Contemporary Dentistry.
Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.