How do you feel when you think about going to the dentist? Do you get excited because you know the visit will contribute to good oral health or are you afraid because you would rather not have the dentist’s hands in your mouth?
Being anxious about going to the dentist is more common than people think. It is estimated that 15% of patients have a form of dental anxiety. Some to the point that they cancel or never show up to their appointment.
There is no denying that dental checkups are vital for good oral health. Your dentist can identify oral problems in their early stages while also professionally clean your teeth to get rid of plaque. A general checkup can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes.
However, when it comes to dealing with patients with anxiety the checkups take longer. While dentists work to ensure all patients are relaxed and comfortable, they have to put in more effort when it comes to patients with anxiety. This is why, patients need to try and deal with their anxiety and keep it at a minimum so the dentist can solely concentrate on the task at hand, your oral health.
Our friend, Dr. Greenstein, a dentist in Ocala, FL highlights the most common of worries patients have that lead to anxiety and how they can be subdued.
Fear 1: Pain
Everyone is afraid of pain and when it comes to any medical procedure, even checkups, most people are scared to go because of pain. If you develop anxiety because you fear pain, be sure to share that with your dentist. Most dentists are familiar with sedation dentistry and are licensed to administer anesthesia. They can discuss the best option of sedation and eliminate your fear of pain.
Fear 2: Bad experience
It is common for a patient to be afraid of the dentist because they have had a bad or unsettling experience with another in the past. It can be something as simple as the doctor not ensuring you are comfortable or the clinic over-billing you. These experiences stay with you, but you need to remember that every dentist is different. Share your experience with your dentist and let them know that you have anxiety and the reason behind it. They will make sure that they take all the measures to make your visit a pleasurable experience.
Fear 3: Not having control
There is always a sense of not being in control when you get any sort of medical treatment. At the clinic, you are confined to a room and a chair and have zero control of what will happen once the treatment starts. This results in many patients wanting to jump up and run out. If this is the case with you, be sure to share your anxiety with the dentist or their assistant. You may have no control over the treatment but certain measures can be discussed to help you feel slightly in control. Little things like raising your hands if you need a break during the treatment, talking about the whole procedure (step-by-step), can make you feel more comfortable.
Fear 4: Embarrassment
Those that go years without going to the dentist are generally embarrassed to go when an emergency comes up because of the condition of their mouth. To a dentist, it doesn’t matter how bad a state your mouth is in, their job is to fix it. There is no need to be ashamed to a point where you don’t go to the dentist because chances are they have seen a mouth in an even worse condition and are trained to treat them, no matter what.
Fear 5: Costs
Getting dental work done is expensive, most people shy away from it because of this reason. If money is an issue, be sure to speak to the clinic about that beforehand. Most clinics now offer payment plans for all their treatment. You should spend some money now for checkups and regular dental treatment than wait it out and have to spend a lot more because of a serious oral problem.
For most patients, the tactics mentioned should be enough to subdue your dental anxiety. However, for those patients that have an intense form of anxiety to an extent of a phobia, it would be better to seek professional help from a mental health specialist. They can guide you on how to effectively overcome the anxiety through cognitive behavioral therapy and visualization techniques.