Unfortunately, as many as three-quarters of Americans experience some degree of dental anxiety that interferes with their comfort in pursuing even routine care from a dentist, such as exams and cleanings. Unfortunately, postponing routine care often leads to dental emergencies that require more involved interventions and may reinforce existing fears, creating a vicious cycle. If this is a problem for you, consider working with a dentist on strategies to overcome it. Here are a few suggestions that may help.
- Take advantage of sedation dentistry! Your dentist may offer sedation to help you achieve a state of deep relaxation during the appointment. Many patients find that this approach helps them overcome their fears. Although patients remain conscious while sedated, they feel as though they are asleep. Sedation also has an amnestic effect, so that patients don’t develop any new negative memories to add to their existing fear.
- Do reality testing with your fearful thoughts. Some people find it effective to assess their self-talk (such as “this dentist appointment is going to be so painful!”) for accuracy. If you’re going in for a cleaning and exam, it’s very unlikely that you’ll experience any discomfort, for example. In cases of severe anxiety, working with a psychotherapist can be helpful in this process.
- Use imagery or breathing techniques to help you get through the appointment. Envisioning a calm, soothing environment, such as a beach or serene forest, can help to calm you during your appointment, as can deep breathing techniques. We can give you more specific details about these strategies when you come in to see us.
- Break the process down into smaller steps. Sometimes thinking about a dental appointment from start to finish can seem overwhelming. But if you can do something small to get started, such as calling the office to schedule your appointment, you can build momentum.
Don’t let dental anxiety stand between you and the professional care that you need to maintain a beautiful, healthy smile! Talk to one of our friendly, understanding staff members about your options for sedation, as well as other strategies for managing your fears. Call the office of Dr. Philip Kozlow today. We are here to help!