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Do you get stressed at the dentist? Dental Anxiety | Salt Lake Dental Clinic

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Cure Your Fear of the Dentist.

What Causes Your Fear of the Dentist?

Concerns about dental visits don’t just happen overnight for no reason.  Often times there is a specific reason that fear around dental visits has been built up.  Below are the most common causes:[/fusion_text][fusion_text]

  • PTSD From Prior Incidents

The terms “dental anxiety” and “fear of the dentist” are thrown around frequently but often aren’t truly descriptive of the problem at hand.  Studies show that “previous traumatic experiences [are] found to result in elevated anxiety and fear”. 

  • Mass Media

The mass media’s portrayal of dental visits often contributes to the dental anxiety or dental PTSD.  To be frank, you never hear news stories of someone having a success teeth cleaning appointment or root canal.  As always, it’s the bad stuff that attracts news agencies.

  • Lack of Control   

The feeling of constriction and confinement can be a major contributor to stress.  Being unable to get out of your chair, talk to someone or even swallow your own saliva can be a very jarring experience.  

Often times, the lack of control while sitting in the dentist’s chair can be a major issue and one that causes a lot of nervousness.  Even if you’ve never had any poor past experiences with the dentist, simply not being able to move around freely can be a major cause for fear and anxiety.

This means that a previous visit that went poorly such as a painful tooth removal, an unkind doctor, or a painful exam will likely cause an increase in your fear of the dentist.  As such, the term “dental PTSD” is far more descriptive and accurate.

Treatment for Dental Anxiety

1. Communication.

We often times get into the mindset that dentist appointments have to go the way they’ve always gone and that there’s no room for change.  The reality is that most dentists are more than interested in improving the experience their patients have at their office.  Simply communicating with them about your concerns can help tremendously.  Before your next appointment, call or visit your dentist to talk about the following areas:

  • Taking Breaks:

The ability to get up and walk around for a few minutes can make less enjoyable experiences significantly better.

  • Listening to Music:

Having some calming or interesting music while you’re getting a teeth cleaning can help distract and comfort you.

  • Signals of Discomfort:

If things aren’t going too well, have a signal you can give the dentist or dental hygienist for them to stop. Having the peace of mind that your dental  care professional understands your concerns can make a major difference in how your next visit goes.

2. Relaxation Techniques.
Understanding how to calm yourself down in stressful situations has its advantages far beyond a visit to the doctor’s office.  Below are two time-proven techniques to calm yourself in times of stress.

  • Breathing:

Simply focusing on your breathing can have a major impact on stress levels.  Try counting in for four counts, holding for four counts and exhaling for four counts.  Practice doing this for two or three minutes at a time.

  • Muscle Relaxation:

Try relaxing your muscles in an organized fashion.  Start at your feet and slowly work your way up your body.  Try focusing on each muscle group and relax it as much as you possibly can.  You’ll often times find your thighs, chest, hands and shoulders have far more tension than you realized  Below is a quick list of areas to focus on.  This technique works really well for falling asleep too!

For additional techniques, check out WebMD’s article on ways to reduce stress.

3. Buddy System:
If your fear of the dentist can’t be quelled by communication or relaxing, try taking a friend or loved one to the dentist with you.  Ask your dentist if they mind having someone sit in the room with you.  As long as it’s in a chair out of the way, there likely won’t be any problems.  Having someone you trust nearby to watch over you can help in even the most nerve-wracking situations.

4. Fear the Dentist No More.
There’s a lot that can be done for your oral health away from the office, but brushing, flossing, whitening and rinsing at home only goes so far.  Making it into the dentist’s office is crucial to maintaining your oral health.  Whether your discomfort comes from past experiences, mass media portrayal or feeling out of control, it’s a hard burden to bare that makes keeping track of your health a lot harder.  

Make sure to communicate your fears with your local dentist to see if there’s anything that can be done on their end to make sure your experience is as comfortable as it can be.  Additionally, look towards relaxation techniques and bringing a friend/loved one along to make your visit a bit better.  

Whatever your concerns are, there’s a solution for them. 

This blog post was brought to you by Oradyne.