If the thought of going to the dentist makes you feel uncomfortable or gives you sleepless nights, you aren’t alone. Researchers have found that dental anxiety is a common problem affecting approximately 36% of the US population, with 12% suffering from extreme dental phobia. Luckily, with the right tools and support, you can overcome anxiety in the dental chair and enjoy good oral health.   

What is Dental Anxiety? 

Dental anxiety is a condition that’s characterized by fear, stress, and anxiety toward the dentist and dental treatments. While few people enjoy going to the dentist, patients with dental anxiety are so afraid that they put off the visit until the pain is too much to bear. Symptoms of dental anxiety include sweating, racing heartbeat, low blood pressure, fainting, crying, or panicking.   

Dental anxiety can be caused by fear of pain due to negative experiences you had when you were younger or from pain and horror stories you’ve heard from others. Other causes of dental anxiety include embarrassment about your current oral health or hygiene, fear of anesthesia side effects, feelings of helplessness and loss of control, fear of needles, or a general anxiety disorder.   

How Can I Overcome Dental Anxiety?  

There are several ways to overcome dental anxiety, including:

  • Choose a caring, compassionate dentist: A good patient–dentist relationship is the best way to overcome dental fear. The trick is finding and working with an honest and trustworthy dentist who treats you with respect and compassion.  
  • Communicate with your dentist: Let the dentist know how you’re feeling, and then work together to make your visit as relaxed as possible. An open discussion around the individual anxiety triggers can help the dentist work with you to tailor a management plan for you. You can agree with your dentist on a signal you will make if you feel overwhelmed or want the treatment to stop for any reason (such as raising your left pointer finger or hand) or ask the dental nurse to speak with you or sit with you during your appointment.   
  • Ask questions: Remember that your dentist is here to help you, so be sure to ask any questions and express your concerns. For example, simply ask if you want to know about a specific instrument or treatment. A good dental team will gladly answer all your questions.  
  • Bring a friend or family member to your appointment: Asking a friend or a loved one to accompany you to the dental office can help you feel safer or guide you through your relaxation techniques.  
  • Distraction: Utilize comfort amenities such as noise-canceling headphones and TVs as a distraction during your treatment.  
  • Ask for sedation dentistry options if necessary: If you suffer from extreme dental anxiety, your dentist can provide sedation to help you relax during treatments. Medications may include nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or oral medication. These medications are incredibly safe and effective for managing anxiety. Some patients only need these for their first couple of dental appointments. Once they can have a positive experience at the dentist, their fear of the dentist becomes more manageable.  

Dentist for Dental Anxiety in Salem, NH   

Avoiding the dentist can worsen the dental disease, resulting in a greater need for emergency care, or more complex treatments. Regular dental check-ups, cleaning, and X-rays of the teeth can prevent oral problems like gum disease and cavities and help the dentist find any problems early, so that more straightforward and less invasive treatment options are available.   

At Honest Care Dental, we’re committed to helping you overcome your fear of dental treatment and get the care you need and deserve. Dr. McMillan and the team members at our Salem, NH, dental practice will make your dental experience as relaxing and comfortable as possible. Our dental care is based on honesty and communication and will explain every aspect of your care, give you moral support, and reassure you before and during the procedure. Contact us today to schedule your next dental appointment!