How to Reduce Dental Anxiety

Woman anxious about dental tools

Many people avoid going the dentist regularly for one simple reason. Fear. Odontophobia, or fear of the dentist, affects an estimated nine to fifteen percent of Americans.Odontophobia occurs on a spectrum, varying from slight anxiety to extreme fear. No matter where you fall on this spectrum, there are some things you can do to reduce your dental anxiety and make your trip to the dentist less stressful and traumatic. Listed below is a brief guide to reducing your dental anxiety.


Find the Right Dentist

If you suffer from dental anxiety, finding the right dentist for your needs is key to reducing your dental anxiety. Don’t just pick the first dentist you find and stick with them, unless of course you feel comfortable with them. Generally, you will want to do some “shopping” around for dentists to find one that you feel comfortable with,  that will take the time to explain things to you, and that will go slow during procedures to help alleviate your anxiety. You will also want to make sure their personality clicks with yours because this will naturally help you feel more at ease. You can ask friends and family for referrals and start there. Once you have a few candidates that sound promising, schedule a consultation with them to determine if you think they would be a good dentist for you. Scheduling a consultation is also a good way to introduce you to their office before coming in for an actual appointment.


Explain Your Fears

Once you have found a dentist that you feel comfortable with, or even during consultations with different dentists, you will want to communicate your fears about dentistry with them. This will help them to understand your fear and alter their treatment style to accommodate you.  Most dentists realize many people have dental anxiety and are committed to reducing this anxiety as much as possible. Because of this, there are also many options available today for patients suffering from dental anxiety. Your dentist will go over these options with you so together you can make the best decisions regarding your treatment.


Remember You Are in Control

This brings us to our next point. During any dental treatment, remember that you are ultimately in control. Much of dental anxiety stems from patients feeling like they have no control over their situation, while this is simply not the case. Ultimately, you have the final say regarding your dental care. You are entitled to ask questions about your care and ask for clarification if you do not understand something. The right dentist will not only respect your right to control your own medical care, but will also empower you to do so.


Familiarize Yourself with Dental Tools

Another reason for dental anxiety is fear of the unknown. Many people look at the dentist’s tools and create horrific scenarios in their head about what these tools do when that is not true at all. Instead, understanding their purpose and function will quickly show you that they are not intended to be torturous devices and are instead mostly harmless. Even when some of the more invasive tools are used, they are only used with proper numbing medications so you will not feel anything.

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