How to Overcome Dental Anxiety

Sad woman having dental pain

Dental anxiety is the fear or stress experienced when visiting a dentist. This anxiety can prevent you from seeking routine dental care, causing potential oral health problems to go unnoticed and untreated.

Many factors contribute to dental anxiety, such as a previous traumatic dental experience, the fear of pain or needles, or the anxiety associated with feeling helpless or out of control. Overcoming dental anxiety is possible and vital for maintaining optimal oral health.

Talk to Your Dentist About Your Fears

An essential step in overcoming dental anxiety is communication. Share your fears and concerns with your dentist. This dialogue allows the dentist to adjust their approach and make accommodations, such as explaining procedures thoroughly or using more gentle methods during treatment.

Use Distractions

Distractions can lessen anxiety levels during a dental procedure. Many dental offices offer amenities such as headphones for music, TVs, or stress balls to squeeze.

You can bring your own distractions or comfort items to the dental office. Stream your favorite music or TV series through your phone to help take your mind off the procedure and drown out any noise from the dental drill.

Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry using nitrous oxide (laughing gas) helps you relax while ensuring you remain conscious throughout the dental treatment.

IV sedation might be a suitable option for severe cases of dental anxiety. This method involves using anti-anxiety medication delivered via IV to help you relax during dental procedures. You’ll feel groggy under IV sedation but conscious and able to respond to your dentist; however, you’ll likely have no memory of the procedure.

Regular Dental Visits

While it might seem counterintuitive, regular dental visits can help alleviate dental anxiety. Routine appointments maintain your oral health and provide opportunities to become more familiar and comfortable with the dental environment. Over time, this familiarity can reduce the fear and anxiety associated with dental appointments.

If it is your first time visiting a dental office, ask if you can come for a non-treatment visit. This enables you to experience the waiting and exam rooms and talk to your dentist about your anxiety without the pressure of receiving treatment.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, meditation, or visualization can effectively manage dental anxiety. These techniques can help calm your mind, reduce tension, and promote well-being before and during dental appointments.

Professional Help for Dental Anxiety

If your dental anxiety persists despite trying these strategies, consider seeking help from a mental health professional. Therapists or psychologists can provide techniques and tools to manage anxiety effectively.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, such as exposure or cognitive restructuring can treat dental anxiety by changing negative patterns of thought and behavior.

Let Us Help You Overcome Dental Anxiety

At Valley Dental Care, our team is committed to providing gentle, compassionate care tailored to each patient’s unique needs and concerns. Our offices in Aurora and Oswego are well-equipped to handle all of your dental needs in a comfortable and anxiety-free environment.

Don’t let dental anxiety stand in the way of your oral health. Contact our offices at Aurora: (630) 892-2193 or Oswego: (630) 551-7000 to schedule an appointment today.