Experts agree that consistent dental check-ups are key to overall oral health, yet dental anxiety often prevents many from seeking the care they need. According to a 2015 study by the American Dental Association, 22% of adults who avoid the dentist do so out of fear. Previous dental complications, fear of pain, secondhand stories and overall medical anxiety are some of the reasons for this fear.
While the basis of the fears associated with dentistry is varied, there are simple solutions to help. Here are three ways to decrease dental anxiety.
1. Research the facts
Biannual dental exams are the recommended way to maintain oral health. The World Dental Federation notes that 3.9 billion people currently suffer from oral disease. This can manifest as cavities, gum disease and even cancer. The 1993 United Kingdom Child Dental Health Survey shows that children who visited the dentist on a consistent basis as a preventative measure had far fewer teeth extracted than those who only visited when problems arose. Researching these facts proves the significance that dental exams have on health. Those who fear dental appointments can put these statistics into perspective and realize that a visit to the dentist is statistically far healthier than avoiding exams.
2. Accurately prepare for a dental appointment
Know what to expect before the appointment. Be sure to call the office ahead of time and find out what to bring and what will take place during the appointment. Feel free to ask any questions, such as, "Will the dentist be taking X-rays?" If a secondary driver is needed for the way home, be sure to secure this person well in advance. Inform them of the dental anxiety so they are prepared as well.
Drive to the office a day or so before the appointment to become more familiar with the route. Preparing physically can automatically help to build confidence as well. If possible, speak to another client of the dentist to find out more about the overall flow of the appointment. If not, ask a friend to recount a typical dental appointment at another dentist.
3. Optimize the dental appointment
Let the front office staff know about any anxiety upon arrival. Know this is quite common and most dentists and staff are trained on how to address concerns. While in the office, remember all the research and preparations to build confidence. Continue to ask any questions as they arise.
If the anxiety continues, use this simple breathing technique. Inhale and slowly count to four. Next, exhale and slowly count to eight. Repeat this 10 times. Longer exhales activate the parasympathetic nervous symptom, which puts the body into a much more relaxed state.
Dental anxiety can make it difficult to go to the dentist. Following the aforementioned steps promotes logical choices about dental health instead of focusing solely on emotion. The first two tips can ease the mind and bring confidence. After one positive dental experience following the third tip, the fear is likely to lessen so future appointments become easier.
Request an appointment here: https://familydentistphoenix.com or call Phoenix Family Dentistry at (602) 547-9007 for an appointment in our Phoenix office.