About 95% of dental patients have some form of anxiety. Whether it’s the shot, the fear of the unknown, the fear of pain, or just the unpleasantness of the dentist hands in your mouth, there are an undetermined number of reasons why most people are scared. Unfortunately, no matter how you feel about the dentist, at some point it has to be done. So, let’s go over some ways to help you through it.
- Ask your dentist to walk through the procedure with you. There are many times when the fear is really just a fear of the unknown. As dentists, we do the same procedures all day every day. We sometimes forget that something we have done thousands of times is completely unknown to you. Often just a short explanation of what we are going to do can alleviate all of your fears.
- Tell your dentist about your specific fears. We can’t help what we don’t know. If you have a fear of needles, we can make sure you don’t see it. If you hate impression material, we have tricks to make it easier. If we know what you are particularly in fear of, we can do our best to help you through it.
- Watch your food and drink intake. Drinking a coffee with extra shots of espresso when you are already nervous will only make you more jittery. Caffeine is not calming. The same goes for high sugar foods. They will only amp up your body’s anxiety level.
- Plan your day. If possible, make your appointment for dental work on a day where you don’t have a bunch of other stressful things going on. This will allow you to be as calm as possible.
- Visit your dentist routinely. I know this seems counterintuitive, but often patients are scared of what we will find in your mouth. With regular visits, not only will you get used to the process of seeing the dentist, but in addition, there is less of a chance that we will find something major if we just saw you 6 months ago.
- Sedation! Finally, if your anxiety is too much and the above suggestions just aren’t cutting it, ask your dentist for sedation. There are many different kinds of sedation. From nitrous oxide or laughing gas, to oral sedation, to iv sedation. Ask your dentist about your sedation options.
Please keep in mind that, as your dentist, we want you to be happy. A relaxed, happy patient makes our job easier. So, let us know what we can do to help you. Remember we can’t read your mind! In the famous words of Jerry Maguire, “Help me Help You!” That way we can all be happy.