Did you know up to 36% of Americans have dental anxiety? This common problem can affect people of all ages and walks of life. Unfortunately, it can also keep people from seeing the dentist, which can cause even bigger issues in the long run.
At Beaumont Cherry Valley Dental in Beaumont, California, Daniel Park, DDS, doesn’t want fear or anxiety to keep people from getting the care they need. Whether you need routine preventive dental care or have an emergency, you can rest easy knowing that Dr. Park takes extra steps to keep you comfortable during every visit.
In this blog, Dr. Park offers six steps to take if you have dental anxiety, so you can visit the dentist worry-free.
1. Talk to your dentist
Dental anxiety may feel embarrassing, but it’s a very common problem. However, avoiding or delaying dental treatment because of your worries or fears can make it worse, and even lead to more pain and complex dental procedures in the future.
To avoid this vicious cycle, Dr. Park recommends talking to your dentist right away, so they know about your dental anxiety and phobia. When your dentist knows about your fears or apprehensions, they can take additional steps to increase your comfort during each visit.
2. Ask questions
Having a dentist you can trust is an important aspect of managing dental anxiety. You should feel free to ask as many questions as you need, whether you’re facing a routine cleaning or a root canal.
When you understand what will happen at your appointment, it can help remove the fear of the unknown. Plus, you can also talk to your dentist about concerns you may have regarding pain and discuss a signal for communicating that you need a break during your procedure, such as raising your hand.
3. Distract yourself
Nothing makes anxiety and fear worse than focusing on it. So why not try distracting yourself with something else instead?
Believe it or not, there are simple things that can help take your mind off your dental appointment, such as wearing headphones to listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks. You can even distract yourself by holding or playing with something in your hands, such as a stress ball or fidget spinner.
4. Try relaxation techniques
Anxiety, stress, and fear automatically create tension in the body. However, tension in the body also increases anxiety, stress, and fear! But, you can disrupt this cycle with relaxation techniques, and you can rely on them before, during, and after every dental visit.
Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, and body scans, can help slow your heart rate and ease tension. And, since they don’t require special tools or training, you can tap into them whenever you need them most.
If the mere thought of the dentist causes your heart to race, try counting your breaths as you inhale and exhale. Or, try relaxing your muscles from your head to your toes — but do it one body part at a time.
5. Bring a friend
Have you ever heard that there is safety in numbers? There’s truth to these words, especially if you have dental anxiety.
Having a friend or relative who makes you feel safe and relaxed at a dental appointment can provide a calming effect. You can also ask Dr. Park if your friend or relative can join you in the exam room, even if you can’t talk in the midst of your procedure.
6. Consider medication
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask your dentist about medications to help keep you comfortable during your visit.
Several options can help reduce mild to severe anxiety during dental appointments, from short-acting anti-anxiety medications taken before your visit to conscious or general anesthesia that leave you very relaxed or fully asleep for your procedure.
Dr. Park can make personalized recommendations on the best approach based on your concerns and level of dental anxiety.
Is anxiety keeping you from the dentist? Get the care and support you need by calling 951-845-2661 to book an appointment with Beaumont Cherry Valley Dental today.