We all know seeing the dentist on a regular basis - ideally every six months - is one of the most important things you can do to keep your smile looking its best and to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible. But just because we know routine visits to the dentist are the right thing to do, that doesn’t mean we look forward to those visits.
Unfortunately, while many people may feel some degree of nervousness about seeing the dentist - or just about any doctor - for about 15 percent of the population, those anxious feelings are severe. How severe? People with dental anxiety or “dental phobia” often put off essential dental care, including the routine cleanings and exams that can help prevent far more serious problems from developing. That means not only are these individuals risking oral health problems, but they may also be increasing their risks for other major health issues as well.
3 Ways to Overcome Anxiety
For most people, fear of seeing the dentist is associated with a fear of discomfort, and typically, those feelings stem from one or more unpleasant earlier experiences. Being anxious about discomfort is certainly natural. But the fact is, pain management techniques have advanced considerably over the past few years. And that means if you’re avoiding the dentist because of a painful experience in your past, chances are there’s a technique that can significantly reduce or eliminate discomfort so you can get the care and treatment you need without worry.
So what can you do if you suffer from dental anxiety? Here are three simple steps that can help:
Choose the right dentist.
Even though dental anxiety is a very real concern, not all dentists are equipped to handle patients with significant worries about their care. Many patients with less-than-perfect dental experiences may have encountered one or more dentists who failed to take their anxiety seriously. Fortunately, many dentists today not only recognize dental anxiety and the problems it can cause, but they provide options and environments designed to avoid anxiety “triggers” for the best possible experience. Before making an appointment, visit the practice’s website and read reviews to learn how they approach anxious patients, and ask about how the practice handles dental anxiety when you call to make an appointment.
Ask about sedation options.
Choose a practice that offers different types of sedation. Pretty much every practice offers novocaine, which can be very helpful with discomfort. But many practices - including ours - offer other options, including sedatives, that can help you relax as well as increase your physical comfort. Our team is skilled in dental sedation techniques, and we can recommend the best solution based on your level of anxiety, the type of treatment that’s being performed and other factors.
Talk about it.
Once you’ve made your appointment, the next step is to discuss your fears and concerns with your dentist. Don’t hold back - being as open as possible is the key to making sure your appointment is customized specifically for your needs. At our practice, we have many - many - patients who have dental anxiety. We know dental anxiety is a real issue, and we take it very seriously. Our entire team will work with you to customize your care so you can stay calm, relaxed and comfortable, no matter what type of treatment you need.
Don’t let dental anxiety keep you out of the dentist chair. Call Princeton Center for Dental Aesthetics & Implants, 609-924-1141, to find out how we can help you get the care you need without fear or worry, so you can enjoy a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.