When you’re anxious, it’s easy to feel trapped in your head. Your thoughts can feel completely out of your control. So it may seem counterintuitive to suggest that controlling anxiety could mean controlling your thoughts. But according to a branch of therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT for short), recognizing your own thought patterns can give you control over them, and help you develop coping mechanisms to reduce anxiety.
If the thought of visiting the dentist strikes fear into your heart, you may be one of the many Americans who suffer from dental anxiety. And while dental anxiety may be a highly specific version of the generalized anxiety that many people seek therapy to treat, the same principles apply.
Here are three thought processes to identify and avoid for a less anxious dental experience.
“Stop Being Anxious.”
It’s easy to get frustrated by your anxiety. It can make procedures as simple as a cleaning difficult or impossible to get through, and it can even stop you from making and keeping dental appointments that you need. But commanding your anxiety to stop doesn’t help anything — in fact, studies show that trying to suppress thoughts can actually cause those thoughts to come back even stronger.
Instead, it’s better to acknowledge your thoughts, so that you can let them go. Yes, you’re anxious about your dental appointment. That’s okay. Now what are you going to do about it?
Sitting around before your dental appointment thinking of all the things that could go wrong is a surefire way to increase your anxiety. Anxiety can cause those “what if” thought patterns to spiral into overdrive, causing you to visualize dozens of worst-case scenarios, many of which aren’t probable or sometimes even possible.
If you notice yourself imagining all the ways your dental procedure could go wrong, try to interrupt that thought process. Remember, your dentist is experienced and qualified. Whatever they’re doing in your mouth, they’ve probably done hundreds or even thousands of times. Imagining how it could go wrong won’t help anything, so don’t let yourself dwell on it.
“This Is So Embarrassing.”
If you feel embarrassed at the thought of your dentist or their staff knowing you’re anxious, it’s time to put that fear to rest: There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Estimates suggest that dental anxiety affects tens of millions of people across the world. You aren’t the first anxious patient your dentist has seen. In fact, you may not even be the only anxious patient currently in the office!
Your dentist’s top priority is to ensure that you’re comfortable and that you get the dental care you need. Discussing your anxiety with your dentist can allow you to work out a plan to help you feel more relaxed. And if your anxiety is so extreme that it’s preventing you from getting the care you need, you have options, like sedation dentistry.
Call (407) 834-6446 or contact us online to make an appointment at the office of Orlando sedation dentist Dr. Michael L. Weinstock and learn more about how we can help you work through your dental anxiety.