Simple Tricks for Overcoming Dental Anxiety Forever

Posted by Austin Safford Feb 28, 2023

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Dental fear or dental anxiety is one of the most common reasons why people avoid visiting the dentist. If your anxiety levels are preventing you from getting the dental care you need, don't avoid the dentist any longer. Instead, follow these tips.

Speak up about your fears

Many people avoid the dentist due to fear of pain. Others may avoid the dentist as a result of anxiety. Whatever the case may be, you have to let your dentist know you're nervous. Many dentists understand when it comes to nervousness and pain and is willing to work with you to make your visit comfortable. If you're afraid or anxious about needles, let them know. If you hate the sound of the water sprayer, let the office know. If your gag reflex is too strong to handle cleanings, let your dental team know. They'll work to accommodate your needs.

Agree on a signal

Some patients like to give their dentist a head nod if they're feeling anxious or uncomfortable during a procedure. This gives the dentist an opportunity to offer a break or reschedule if necessary. A head nod can also encourage your dentist to allow you more time to get used to the treatment if the process is painful. Don't be afraid to speak up about how you're feeling and what you need!

Take a trusted person with you

If you're feeling anxious or uncomfortable at the dentist's office, ask someone you trust to come with you for support. This person can be there to comfort you and answer questions that come up while you're in the dental chair. Your companion can also help make the appointment less stressful by talking to the dentist on your behalf and helping to fill out paperwork. 

Bring distractions

Distractions can help you ease your anxiety and fear during a dental visit. Here are some ideas to bring a distraction device with you when you sit in the waiting room or chair. These items can help distract you while you wait to be seen. 

  • Consider bringing headphones to listen to music.
  • Have a special toy or blanket that keeps you calm.
  • Bring a book or read a magazine. 
  • Play a game on your phone or do a puzzle.
  • Get caught up on your favorite TV show or movie on a portable DVD player or tablet.
  • Draw, paint, color, or write in a journal. Try to keep your hands busy rather than fidgeting and picking at your skin.
  • Play a mental game and try to think of things that make you happy to distract yourself from your anxiety or discomfort.

Consider sedation dentistry

If you have severe dental anxiety, a dentist may recommend oral conscious sedation or IV sedation to help you relax throughout your appointment. A dentist will administer these medications and closely monitor you during your appointment to ensure your safety. These options can help you feel calm and comfortable throughout your procedure. Many patients who have had a wonderful experience using sedation dentistry state that their fear of the dentist has subsided, and often they have no fear whatsoever of undergoing future dental procedures.

Your dentist may prescribe an oral medication for you to take about an hour before your appointment. As soon as you arrive for your appointment, the sedative will begin working to relieve your dental anxiety. Ideally, you should arrange for transportation to and from your appointment so you can return home and rest after your procedure is complete. Oral sedation is also often used for children to help them remain calm during treatment. The medication will be administered at a pediatric dental office to ensure their safety during their appointment. If a patient is nervous or scared at the dentist's office, they will be much more relaxed and at ease, if they have a friend or family member with them. General dentists recommend that patients bring someone that will help them feel comfortable and relaxed during their appointment. An adult family member, friend, or spouse is ideal for bringing along with them to appointments.

If you are interested in learning more, call our office at (225) 261-0043 to schedule an appointment today! We would be happy to get you on the schedule and help answer any questions that you may have. We look forward to helping you achieve a healthy smile this holiday season and beyond!

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