Past experiences, finances, or current dental problems are just a few examples of why people have dental anxiety. “White coat syndrome” is a real situation that causes people to become nervous, sweaty, or even dizzy when they visit a doctor or dentist. If you’re one of the thousands of people who suffer from dental anxiety, here are some great methods to prevent, avoid, or limit it in the future.
Let Your Dentist Know
It’s important to know that dental anxiety is very, very normal. You’re not the first and certainly won’t be the last one to let your dentist know you’re nervous about treatment. The important thing is that you do let them know. Don’t be embarrassed! In most cases, your dentist is already seeing 1-2 other people each day with the very same condition.
Once your dentist is aware that anxiety is a concern, he or she can take extra steps to keep you comfortable and relaxed. Some examples include scheduling extra time for frequent breaks, breaking the treatment up into multiple appointments, or just talking through things more so that you understand them better and know exactly what’s going on. You may find that having the dentist and assistant talking about their weekend or hobbies help you to take your mind off of things.
Give Nitrous a Try
“Laughing gas” (nitrous oxide) is a safe and effective way to ease mild to moderate dental anxiety. It’s so safe, that dentists have been using it for over 100 years. They still use it today, because it works so well.
If you’ve never experienced laughing gas before, it gives you a fuzzy, “buzz-like” feeling. As you breathe in through your nose, the light sedative begins to work in just a few minutes. You’ll still be aware of everything going on, you just won’t care as much about it. Once your dentist is finished with the procedure, the oxygen-nitrous mixture is flushed out and you breath 100% pure oxygen for 5-10 minutes, until all of the effects have cleared your respiratory system. You’ll be able to drive yourself home as if nothing happened.
Ask for a Sedative
Maybe you need more “relaxation” than what laughing gas has to offer. That’s why sedation dentists offer options such as oral conscious sedation (a light sedative medication is taken by mouth) or more generalized IV sedation (in their office or a hospital setting.) Both choices allow you to feel as if you’ve napped through the entire procedure. In most cases, you won’t remember much of the visit at all.
Take Better Care of Yourself
Most people who are afraid of the dentist tend to take really great care of their teeth. Why? Because they don’t want cavities, of course!
Make daily flossing and electric toothbrush use part of your normal home care routine. If flossing is difficult or painful, a water flosser is a great alternative — in fact, it might even clean better than string floss!
At the opposite end of the spectrum are people who are scared to see a dentist because they haven’t been able to care for their smiles like they wish they could. The painful teeth or embarrassment of how their smile looks is enough to cause them to avoid trips to the dentist office altogether.
Don’t let things get any worse than they already are. Today’s modern dentists can help you overcome your dental phobia and get your smile back on track.
See Your Dentist Regularly
How could more frequent dental appointments help with anxiety? You might think that seeing your dentist more often will just make things worse, but it can actually make it better.
For instance, scheduling a checkup and cleaning every six months means that your dentist can identify concerns earlier on, allowing you to potentially avoid invasive dental work (i.e. instead of getting a filling, all you might need is a prescription for fluoride.) As such, your prevention focused visits are more comfortable and you can have the peace of mind knowing that there aren’t any large treatment plans looming overhead.
If you don’t have dental insurance through your employer, making those routine dental checkups might be an even bigger challenge than it is to overcome your anxiety. Fortunately, there are affordable alternatives to conventional dental insurance, like discount dental plans.
At Aetna Dental Offers we have dental savings plans that are a great option for individuals searching for affordable oral health care. Members save between 15-50% on routine services at family and specialty dental clinics. Contact our savings experts today to find out how we can help.