7 Ways to Deal with Dental Anxiety
If thinking about the dentist leaves you contemplating things that might go wrong, then you may suffer from dental anxiety. Dental anxiety can affect anyone. Being worried about going to the dentist is common. In fact, 40% of the Dutch population suffer from dental anxiety. It is important not to be ashamed or embarrassed about it, and to take steps to confront it.
Symptoms of dental anxiety include:
- a feeling of panic
- sweating, feeling hot
- increased heartbeat
- feeling sick
- feeling your chest tighten
If left untreated, dental anxiety can have long term consequences.
Sounds of the machines, fear of pain, issues from past dental experiences, etc. They all count. Avoiding them leaves you vulnerable to dental disease which can mean adverse effects on health and excessive visits to the dentist. A cruel irony. During regular dental check-ups, dentists check for the signs of gum disease and other serious ailments such as mouth cancer. This is especially relevant for those patients who smoke and regularly drink. Having this in mind may help you put it aside or manage it better when anxiety hits. The downsides of dental avoidance include:
- plaque and tartar
- tooth loss
- tooth cavities
- gum disease and bleeding
- bad breath
- yellow teeth
Overcoming dental anxiety may seem a daunting proposition, but don’t worry, help is available! Below is a list of ways to help confront it!
Choose a dentist that specializes in anxiety
Find a dentist that has experience in anxiety. Most importantly, find one who makes you feel good about going to the dentist. Dental anxiety can be reduced if the visit is well managed, and the right support is offered. Children who have had bad experiences turn into adults who continue to fear the dentist. This is likely to get worse without any meaningful interventions. Sometimes reassurance from a professional on the day is all that is needed for a smooth and stress-free appointment. This helps reduce anxiety levels for future visits.
Did you know that there are dentists specifically trained in dealing with patients who suffer from dental anxiety?
By recognizing what language and tone to use, specialists are trained to deal with anxiety in light of traumatic experiences. Using a variety of techniques. Patients can find a dentist sympathetic to their situation, so they can learn how to cope with dental anxiety.
Book the time off work
There’s nothing worse than rushing to an appointment. It would make anyone anxious. To avoid this, once you book your appointment, make sure to commit the time needed by also taking time off work. Also, cancel any other commitments. To avoid delaying or cancelling, book a half-day off work so you can give the time needed without rushing. If you arrive early, go for a walk rather than waiting in the reception. This is especially important during corona.
Use technology to help distract you
If possible, choose a dental clinic that offers things like TV or music. If that isn’t possible, download your favourite Netflix series onto your phone and take headphones with you. For once the distraction of our phones can help us! They can help cover the noise of drills and relax you.
Use relaxation techniques
Relaxation, distraction, mindfulness and breathing exercises are the most practical and easy ways to help overcome symptoms such as chest tightening. Shallow, upper chest breathing is part of a typical response to stress. It can be reduced through breathing using your diaphragm. Try this until you see a difference. Abdominal breathing can assist in controlling your nervous system and help the body feel more relaxed.
Another way to relax is to visualize happy thoughts. Think about a place or a time that makes you happy and how you felt. This can soothe your mind. At Tandaarts Jordaan, you are welcome to go to your happy place by using noise-cancelling earphones or bringing along a stress ball.
Breathing exercises are great to relieve sights and sounds which can trigger anxiety. Smells can trigger any feelings of dental anxiety. Most of us can describe the ‘medical’ smell we are greeted to on arrival at a hospital or clinical setting. The smell permeating is likely to be eugenol. Whatever it is, smells have a special way of getting under our skin. Nose cells send signals to the olfactory bulb – A part of our limbic system responsible for emotions such as fear. Unlike sight and sound, higher thinking structures go unused during the smell process. Instead, signals are registered in the emotional center of the brain. Most dentists are aware of this and keep smells like these to a minimum through the use of counter products. Or just do not use them anymore (as in the case of Taandarts Jordaan).
If uncertainty is an issue, ask your dentist to explain what’s happening at each stage. Having a conversation whilst in the chair helps build trust. This can reduce any surprises or feelings of unease and give you the chance to mentally prepare for what’s coming. A quick chat with dentistry staff for specific requests can help reduce anxiety levels. For example, requesting not to display any instruments or treatment objects until actually needed. This can even begin with a friendly receptionist. Over time this can really reduce any pre-anxiety felt.
Agree on a hand signal for discomfort
Ask your dentist if you can use a signal, perhaps raising your arm or hand. This is when you need a break from any procedure to rinse your mouth or even just catch a breath. Ask your dentist to stop whenever a break is needed. A dentist familiar with anxiety will give you the time you need to reset.
Make your next appointment whilst you are at the dentist
Before you leave, ask to make your next appointment. Procrastination or forgetfulness is often a reason for not visiting the dentist often enough. The longer you leave it, the more anxious you can get. If you are new to the Netherlands, then the Dutch insurance system may be slightly more complex than back home. A separate company normally deals with dental invoicing. Patients wait for the bill, which checks whether your health insurance plan covers some or all of your dental costs. However, if you need to pay for treatment, it is sometimes easier to pay whilst you are leaving the dentist. Do this after you make your next appointment. Talking to the receptionist will help you feel more comfortable and will humanize the experience.
Read other people’s success stories
After your successful visit to the dentist, search for other people’s success stories online in overcoming dental anxiety. Take note of how much it affected them, what they did to conquer it, and where they are now. Remember, however bad you think you have it, there are people who are much worse. See where they are now in their journey and take inspiration. Use this inspiration to book your appointment with a dentist experienced in helping patients overcome anxiety.
Ready to take the step?
Taandarts Jordan takes the time to listen carefully to their patients. They discuss and explain thoroughly what treatment is needed and how it will be carried out. They have a team of experienced professional dentists who specialize in treating dental anxiety. Book your visit now!
Pick a dental clinic that has a dental anxiety specialist – Taandarts Jordaan.