If you experience dental anxiety, you’re not alone — some estimates say that as much as 75% of Americans experience some level of dental anxiety. In fact, more than 15% of people avoid going to the dentist completely because of their dental anxiety, which can have very expensive consequences.
Although dental anxiety can manifest itself in many ways, the majority of people report that their dental anxiety stems from either fear of pain, or fear of loss of control (or some combination of both). The question is, how can you feel in control at your dental appointments?
Prepare for Your Appointment
The key to reducing dental anxiety before your appointment is in communicating with your dentist!
For many patients, much of their fear stems from not knowing what the dentist is doing in their mouth. To resolve this, ask your dentist to walk you through what they’re going to be doing before you’re even in the chair. If you can go over the steps together, you’ll be better prepared for what’s happening during your visit.
Also, it’s important to tell your dentist about your fears. Dentists treat patients with dental anxiety every day, and they know ways to make you feel more comfortable. Being honest about what makes you anxious can help them better accommodate your needs. And of course, if your dentist doesn’t listen or take your concerns seriously, it’s time to find a new dentist! Dr. Michael Weinstock is accustomed to working with patients who suffer from dental anxiety, and is happy to work with you to ensure your visit goes smoothly.
Controlling Dental Anxiety During Your Appointment
Everyone knows how impossible it is to speak to your dentist while their hands are in your mouth! Because of this, many patients feel like once the procedure has started, they are powerless to inform their dentist of any concerns or needs. Speak to your dentist beforehand about establishing a “stop signal,” such as raising your hand in the air. That way, you can easily request a pause if your dental anxiety becomes overwhelming and you need a moment to collect yourself, get a drink of water, or go to the bathroom.
It’s also common for patients to see dentists as authority figures — as though once they walk into the office, they’re at their dentist’s mercy. It can be empowering to remember that you are a customer, and as with any business, you are free to walk out at any time if you ever stop feeling comfortable. Ultimately, your dentist is there to perform a service for you. If you’re not satisfied, you can leave any time.
Post-Appointment Dental Anxiety Care
After your appointment, make sure to take some time to recap on how it went. Speak to your dentist if anything needs to change for your next visit. And in order to give your body and mind the time it needs to recover from your dental anxiety, try to give yourself a little time to relax! Instead of going straight back to work after your appointment, consider taking the rest of the day off so that residual stress doesn’t build up.
Is your dental anxiety too strong to be managed? You can still have healthy teeth! Dr. Weinstock offers sedation dentistry, a safe and easy option that puts you into a relaxed state to ease you through your procedure.
Don’t let fear keep you from healthy, beautiful teeth! If you need a dentist who can accommodate your dental anxiety, contact us at (407) 834-6446 to make an appointment.