A fear of the dentist is very real to those with dental fear and anxiety. Dentaphobia is also very common; some estimates put the amount of Americans with dental anxiety at approximately 30-40 million. A fear of the dentist can have some very unfortunate consequences; an unwillingness to go to the dentist can result in more dental issues and expense. Dental cleanings and exams can prevent tooth decay and problems that can progress into serious (and painful conditions). The good news is that there is hope for those dealing with dental fear and anxiety; use these tips to schedule and keep those dental appointments.
Choose a good dentist.
A good experience in the dentist office starts and ends with the staff and dentist. Select a dentist with the expertise and demeanor that puts every patient at ease. When sifting through customer reviews, look for dentists with reviews that refer to a dental fear and a good experience. If the dental fear is related to calling the dentist, add making online appointments to the criteria list for a good dentist.
Know the source of your anxiety.
There are numerous reasons behind a dental fear: a difficult past experience, fear of the cost, anxiety about the tools or the possibility of pain. Every patient has a different reason behind their fear. Identify the source of the dental fear and anxiety; this vital first step can help with forming a plan to help deal with any fears or anxieties. Don’t be afraid to be honest with the dentist and dental staff about the anxiety. Many dentist offices can take steps to assist patients with a dental fear. If sitting in a waiting room is a trigger for anxiety, arrive at the time of the appointment and notify the dental office of the fact and reason behind it.
Have a coping strategy.
Don’t wait to deal with dental fear; this can lead to putting off vital dentist appointments and care. Instead, take steps before and on the day of the appointment so the experience is positive and leaves a lasting good impression that carries over to the next experience.
Utilize relaxation techniques.
Relaxation is the key to a pleasant experience; learn relaxation techniques before the day of the appointment. Don’t hesitate to use deep breathing or use another relaxation technique at and before the appointment. Think positive thoughts and reminders before and in the dentist office. If the fear is related to anxiety about pain, discuss options for pain treatment and sedation with the dental staff before and at the appointment.
Distract, distract, distract.
Distractions are a powerful tool when dealing with a dental fear and anxiety. Bring along music and earphones, a book on tape, or a stress ball that can take the mind off the procedure. A friend or family member in the office can also be helpful with reminders to be calm.
Get a quote.
One of the most common dental fears revolves around the cost of the appointment. This fear can also be appeased with advanced preparation. If dental insurance is available, call the insurance company to verify that the dentist is within network (if applicable) and that the procedure is covered. In either case, contact the dentist before the appointment to get a quote that can be used for approval by insurance or for the purpose of putting funds away for payment. A dental savings plan can assist with the savings process. Look for a savings plan with minimal waiting periods and priori authorizations. Be cautious about plans with a yearly maximum allowance or a large amount of paperwork.
Contact a counselor.
Don’t let a dental fear delay vital oral health treatment. If needed, search for an expert that can assist with developing a strategy for coping with a dental fear and anxiety.