We aren’t sure exactly where the universal fear of going to the dentist came from, but it has become one of the most common phobias in the United States. As many as 15% of adults struggle with fears of attending their regular dental visits. And while most people can overcome this fear and maintain adequate oral health care, many people still avoid the dentist altogether.
It is completely normal to be a bit apprehensive before a new experience, and your dental visits are no exception. This anxiety can come from the fear of the unknown itself or could be related to other things like past experiences at the dentist, feelings of helplessness during a dental examination, having a low pain tolerance, and even shame or embarrassment from poor oral hygiene routines or missing routine cleanings.
Our team here at Germantown Dental Group knows what you are going through and is here to help you overcome your dental fear and get the oral health care you deserve without judgment. Our team boasts experienced cosmetic dentists and smiling dental professionals standing by to create an unforgettable dental care experience for you. Regular dental visits can keep minor problems from becoming severe issues, so check out our tips for overcoming your dental fears.
Discuss your fears with your provider before and during your appointment.
Since dental phobias and anxieties are so common, Dr. Whittemore, Dr. Gruen, and their skilled team have plenty of experience working with patients who are apprehensive about their visits. Be sure to check our blogs for information specific to our office or your procedure and ask questions when making your appointment. The best way to calm fears and anxieties is to get them out of your way ahead of time and we will help you understand every step.
We want you to feel comfortable and as relaxed as possible during your examinations and procedures, and we’ve created a peaceful atmosphere with soft blankets, refreshments, and personal headphones to keep you comfortable. Our experienced team is trained to respond to any anxiety you may be feeling so you can feel safe to discuss your fears at any point in your appointment.
Attend your appointments regularly.
It may be easier at the moment just to avoid what is making you anxious. Still, the best way to overcome this overwhelming feeling is to create a habit of facing that fear and attending your appointments regularly. Routine visits are not just exams but also deep cleanings that help remove tartar and plaque buildup to prevent tooth decay and gum disease like gingivitis. When you miss appointments, these things get worse, and it can become more embarrassing or trigger fears of the possible pain from treatment.
Bring a friend or family member to support and distract you.
Sometimes, having a familiar face close by during an experience full of unknowns can make us feel much more at ease. While they may not be able to be right by your side during your procedure, knowing you have support waiting on you is important. They can also help distract you while waiting and provide personal feedback for treatment options when you are unsure or overwhelmed. Bringing a support person to your dental visit may even be necessary if you will be using sedation during your procedure as you will not be able to drive after.
Try different personal relaxation techniques.
Most relaxation techniques are easy and harmless to try on your own and are entirely free. Deep-breathing, meditation, and stress-ball devices are some of the most common relaxation practices that can drastically reduce dental fears that stem from anxieties around your visit. Most of these practices are designed to slow your breathing and calm your blood flow, allowing you to feel more mindful and confident.
Some patients have found relief from their fears with visualization techniques like picturing themselves in calming environments like on vacation at the beach and focusing on the sounds, smells, and other sensations of the vision. Other patients find that visualizing each step of the appointment and thinking positively of the outcome of each step helps to reduce their fears during treatment.
Consider sedation dentistry.
Modern medicine doesn’t just alleviate headaches and lower blood sugars; it can also provide relaxation at different levels of consciousness through sedation. Sedation dentistry involves techniques that allow you to settle your nerves before and during treatment. These techniques can help you experience a more comfortable and relaxing appointment while minimizing or eliminating discomfort.
Here at Germantown Dental Group, we offer two different types of sedation for our patients, inhalation and oral sedation. With inhalation sedation, a mild sedative gas is administered by placing a mask over the nose while the patient breathes normally for a few minutes. The sedation takes five minutes, but you will be awake throughout the procedure. After your procedure, you will not feel any lingering effects of sedation and will be able to drive yourself home.
The other standard sedation option is oral sedation through anti-anxiety medications such as Valium and Halcion, which help reduce fears and encourage relaxation by binding brain receptors responsible for fear. Depending on your dosage and the type of medication you receive, you will likely feel a sense of calm, drowsiness, minor amnesia, and tingling sensations. This method does have lingering effects and will impair your ability to drive yourself home following your appointment.
Let Germantown Dental Group ease your fears and make you smile!
We know how hard it can be to overcome obstacles in your life that keep you from getting the dental care you need. At Germantown Dental Group, our compassionate team understands your fears and will do all we can to ensure you get an experience that breaks down those fears, not adds to them.
Whether it’s your fear or shame from how long it’s been, get in touch with us to discuss how we can help remove some obstacles for you and schedule your appointment to get your oral health on the right track. Everyone deserves the self-confidence that comes with having a beautiful and healthy smile!