Dental anxiety is when you feel nervous, worried or uneasy about going to the dentist. You may have low or moderate levels of anxiety, where you feel anxious but can cope or your levels of anxiety may be high or extreme. If you get extremely anxious about going to the dentist, you could have a dental phobia. This is when you have a persistent and intense fear of the dentist.
No one is born being afraid of dental visits. So everyone who is afraid has learned somewhere that dental treatment is something to fear. In fact, dental fear begins at the subconscious level.
Some people learn this because they’ve had previous bad dental experiences. The basic idea is really very simple. In order to counteract past bad experiences you need to have new positive experiences which lead to the development of improved feelings and attitudes.
The more bad experiences you have had or the longer they have gone on, the more good experiences you need before you will have different reactions to the same situation. Dental health professionals know that your mouth is a very personal place and trust is a big part of allowing us to partner in your care.
Children are even more likely than adults to be wary of the dentist. Mostly kids are scared to visit the dentist. Start bringing your child to the dentist as soon as they get their baby teeth, they’ll become comfortable with cleaning and familiar with your dentist.
Being afraid of the dentist means different things to different people. Maybe it’s the thought that treatment will hurt, or that the sounds and smells bring back memories of bad experiences as a child.
Dentists in India understand their patients’ fears. With a combination of kindness and gentleness they can do a lot to make dental treatment stress free.
Visiting a dentist won’t be nearly as painful as you expect. Surveys of patients before and after the most dreaded procedures such as a root canal or wisdom tooth extraction have found that they anticipated much more discomfort than they actually experienced.
The root canal in particular gets a bad rap because it is typically preceded by painful toothaches. The procedure itself relieves this pain, often in just a single visit.
Dentists in Delhi especially in the reputed dental clinics in Delhi are doing 90 percent of the root canal treatment in just 1 sitting.
Wisdom tooth extractions get a bad name because of occasional jaw pain experienced several days afterwards, which can be treated with pills.
If you have dental anxiety, make sure you tell your dentist. If your dentist knows how you’re feeling, they can make a special effort to help you feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible. Dentists in dental clinics in India make it a point to talk you and answer any questions you may have.
If you’re unsure about anything, don’t be afraid to ask your dentist to demonstrate things.
It’s possible, even for those people who are the most fearful, to reduce their fear and to learn to have dental treatment in a way that feels calm and safe.
Practicing relaxation regularly can help lower your levels of stress and anxiety and help you to cope when you feel anxious. Some relaxation practices include deep breathing and muscle relaxation.
Here are ways you can make visiting the dentist more comfortable and perhaps even pleasant; easing the fears you have battled in the past.
Be Upfront About Your Dental Phobia
We know people can be scared of coming to the dentist, and we want to help. We won’t judge you or dismiss your fears. We’ll work with you to help you feel more relaxed. This may include:
- Talking to you during a cleaning.
- Letting you see the dental instruments before they are used, you may even want to touch or hold them to help them feel familiar.
- Explaining everything that will happen during your appointment.
Bring a Family Member or Friend with You
Most adults go to dentist appointments alone. However, bringing along a friend or family member who understands your fears can be reassuring. They can help you stay calm during your appointment.
You may need to clear this with your dentist ahead of time. At some practices the dental work area is so small your companion may have to remain in the waiting room. But just knowing they are nearby may provide the comfort you need.
Ask About Modifications
Not every dental procedure must be the same for each person. Say you have a sensitive gag reflex that makes you dread getting X-rays. Talk to your dentist about your concerns.
Talk About Pain Management Options
If you’re trying to overcome a fear of dentists, you may simply be scared of feeling pain during your visit. Chat with your dentist about your fears so they understand where your anxiety is coming from. Solutions to this issue might include: A numbing gel can also be used to numb your gums before an injection so you don’t feel the needle.
Ways to Make Your Dental Visit More Pleasant
Developing the ability to take control of your mind and allow yourself to be distracted from the dental treatment. Here are some ways you can make the subsequent visits less scary.
Music can help relax you and allow you to zone out while your teeth are being cleaned. Use your phone or iPod to listen to your favorite tunes while the dentist works.
Meditation – a relaxation of mind and body musculature
Meditation calms your nerves by slowing your heart rate and forcing you to get into a rhythmic breathing.
Use whatever means necessary to keep your mind off of what’s being done in your mouth helping you to relax while the dentist does their work, such as:
- Count to one thousand
- Replay a movie in your head.
- Silently recite the alphabet backwards.
Deep breathing can be a great technique to relax your mind and body prior to dental work. By taking in slow, deep breaths, the oxygen flow will have a calming effect on your entire body. Remember, slow and deep, NOT short and fast, as this can cause you to hyperventilate.
Take Frequent Breaks
Patients may need to take breaks during dental procedures, when anxiety builds up or they start to feel claustrophobic. If you feel like you need a break, let your dentist know and he/she will gladly stop to give you the time and space necessary.
By using these tips, you can alleviate many of the dentist-related fears that may have been holding you back from getting regular dental care.
In the beginning it may seem insurmountable but one step and one appointment at a time, and the visits become easier and easier.
If you haven’t seen a dentist for several years because of fear or anxiety, be reassured that you should find the experience more bearable nowadays.
Advances in technology have also improved dentistry. Treatment can now be completely painless.
Modern dental surgeries have much friendlier environments. It’s altogether a gentler experience. Of course, you’ll still have the smells and sounds of the dental surgery but these are less noticeable than they used to be with instruments hidden from sight and background music playing. Even drills aren’t as noisy as they used to be.
Dental clinics in Delhi like ours ‘Smile Delhi- The Dental Clinic’, deal with dental anxiety every day. While our goal is always to make you as comfortable as possible and to give every patient a great experience, we understand that dental anxiety is real and can be truly scary.
Do not let dental anxiety prevent you from being healthy in all aspects of your life.
Posted by- Dr Suprriya and Dr Shriya