Do you fear the dentist? Harvard Health reports 13% to 24% of people around the world have a fear of going to the dentist. Dental anxiety can range from disturbing to disabling. You may feel nervous or upset before a dental appointment. Or you may avoid seeing the dentist altogether. Dental avoidance can lead to serious health issues beyond your oral health. You become more susceptible to gum disease, tooth loss, decay, and infection. Infections can become serious and affect your heart and other organs. Tooth loss or pain can make chewing a challenge. The bottom line is competent dental care is a crucial part of good oral hygiene. Oral hygiene is a central part of health.
If you fear the dentist, try the techniques below to help you ease into dental care.
Share Your Thoughts
Your cosmetic dentist in Hollywood can help you more if you communicate your needs. Also, getting your anxious feelings off your chest can be liberating. You might notice that you feel better after talking through your negative thoughts.
This starts when you make your appointment. Let the dental receptionist know you are nervous about seeing the dentist. Then, tell the dentist when you first meet them. Share any negative experiences you have had in the past. Explain what you want to avoid. Your dentist knows coping strategies that can help. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions about the procedure. Knowing what to expect can ease your anxiety.
Before you start the exam or procedure, agree on a signal with your dentist. For example, raising two fingers means you would like to take a break. Also, let them know if you feel any pain. Your dentist can provide more or different anesthesia to make you more comfortable.
Taking your mind off the procedure can help you calm down. It can also make the time go by faster. Find out if your dental office provides movies or music to its patients. Bring your own headphones and listen to your favorite movie or an audiobook. Besides giving you something to focus on, the audio will also drown out the sound of drilling.
Play with a small handheld object, like a stress ball or fidget spinner. These help release tension and provide a distraction. Whether you fear the dentist or not, this helps pass the time.
Doctors encourage patients to ask about sedation dentistry, also known as sleep dentistry. Sedation works when you have a condition that makes visiting the dentist challenging:
- Phobia related to dental procedures
- Special needs
- Fear and general anxiety disorder
- Sensitive oral nerves
- Small-mouth that becomes sore during procedures
Your dentist can sedate you for any procedure. Some examples are root canals, dental implants, and tooth extractions. Sedation makes your dental visit more comfortable. Side effects are rare. They include mild symptoms like grogginess after the procedure and dry mouth.
Oral vs. IV Sedation
Dr. Kalesho received extensive training in oral sedation. She is equipped with one of the top-rated anesthesiologists in the field for IV sedation.
Oral sedation is given as a pill before treatment. It provides a mild sedative effect. IV sedation is stronger and works best on very anxious patients or those with special needs. IV sedation is also used to perform multiple procedures on the same day.
How Does Sedation Feel?
“Some patients describe counting backward from 10 and only being able to recall counting to 6 or 7. Further, they describe waking up and it being all over. Other patients explain they do not recall much at all like being unconscious. Patients with extreme anxiety state the sedative provided incomparable comfort.”
Use Mindfulness Techniques
Mindfulness is a powerful resource for all types of anxiety, including dental anxiety. It focuses on clearing your mind of distracting or negative thoughts so you can be fully present. You might think. “I don’t want to be fully present during a dental procedure!” But mindfulness will not make you hyper-aware of what is going on. Instead, it aims to put you in touch with the reality of the situation. It helps you realize you are in a safe and secure environment and you are not in any danger.
Try counting your breaths. You can count 1 for the first inhale and 2 for the first exhale, three for the second inhale, and so forth. Or, you can count 1 for each inhale and exhale and 2 for the next inhale and exhale. Try to focus until you reach 10, then start over. You might even lull yourself to sleep. You can practice this exercise in the waiting room or in the dental chair, or any time you feel anxious.
The body scan is a common mindfulness exercise. You close your eyes and mentally scan your entire body starting at the top of your head. You can also start from the tips of your toes if you prefer. Focus on relaxing tension one body part at a time until you have worked your way across the entire body.
Fear the Dentist No More!
Dr. Rhonda Kalesho at GLO Modern Dentistry is Hollywood’s #1 rated cosmetic dentist. With a 5 star rating, she provides premier dental care in the heart of Hollywood. Dr. Kalesho has received acclaim for her aesthetic dental workmanship. She is fluent in English and Arabic. GLO Modern Dentistry offers $99 X-Rays and Exams for new patients. Contact Dr. Kalesho at Glo Modern Dentistry today to make an appointment!