Dental anxiety is more common than you think. In fact, research shows that 13-24% of people experience anxiety before and during dental office visits. Clearly you have nothing to be ashamed of if you count yourself among their number. However, you should be concerned if your dental anxiety is keeping you from receiving proper medical care. Let’s look at how to address dental anxiety.
How to Address Dental Anxiety
Your mouth is the gateway to so many of your vital systems, and consistent oral health care is absolutely necessary to your general well-being. The good news is that we know a lot more about dental anxiety now than we did even a few years ago. Today your dentist at Bedford Dental Group in Beverly Hills is well-equipped to treat you and your family, while taking the necessary steps to make you comfortable despite your anxiety. Here are just a few ways you and your dentist can work to address and dispel your anxiety during dental visits.
Your dentist cannot help you manage your anxiety if they don’t know it exists. If you experience anxiety at the dentist’s office, then you need to tell them when you book your appointment. It’s also a good idea to remind your dentist the day of your visit.
Making your dentist aware of your anxiety alerts them to the possibility that you may become tense or distressed during treatment. This is vital information that can be used to establish a safety protocol between you and your dentist. Oftentimes, these include the use of a hand symbol to tell your dentist that you’re in distress and require a moment to relax.
It can be frightening to sit in the chair without really understanding what is going on. Prior to receiving treatment ask as many questions as you want. Understanding the necessity of each step and knowing what to expect is very helpful for some patients. In fact, many patients with dental anxiety benefit from their dentist talking them through each step during treatment. However, this is highly personal and may not benefit all patients in the same way.
When it comes to dental anxiety, the noise and smells are often the worst part. You can hear, smell, and almost taste the drill. Fortunately, you can block out one of those senses with relative ease. Before going to your next dental appointment, pack a set of headphones in your pocket and download an ebook, podcast, or album you’ve been meaning to listen to. Put the volume on high and use it to distract you from the sounds of being in the dentist’s office.
Keep Your Hands Busy
In a similar vein, keeping your hands busy can provide a valuable level of distraction if you’re feeling anxious. A stress ball, fidget spinner, or a rubber band around the wrist can all easily be used to keep your hands occupied while you’re being treated. It isn’t a perfect solution, but it’s much better to physically express your anxiety on an appropriate object than to internalize it.
If you aren’t a huge fan of audiobooks or podcasts, you may try listening to a guided meditation or ASMR. Both mediums are intended to provide relaxation and have shown positive results as a counter for anxiety. For those who are new to this type of audio experience, body scan meditations are a great first step. They require you to focus on individual parts of your body, starting with your toes. This will pull your attention away from your mouth, allowing you to relax more.
Ask About Sedation Dentistry
The aforementioned suggestions are catered towards mild to moderate anxiety. If you experience severe anxiety, which could result in injury for yourself or your dentist, then you should consider sedation dentistry.
It’s a simple concept. Your sedation dentist in Beverly Hills will choose a sedation method based on your anxiety and general health. These can range from medications that are used to promote relaxation all the way to general anesthesia. The one thing they have in common is that all of them are catered to the needs of the patient to make their oral healthcare comfortable and safe.