Easing Dental Anxiety: Five Coping Methods that Can Help

Easing Dental Anxiety: Five Coping Methods that Can Help

Posted by Dieterlen Dental Feb 28, 2023

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Dental anxiety or dental fear is very common among patients. Some patients experience mild anxiety, while others experience extreme dental anxiety. Dental anxiety or dental fear keeps patients from visiting the dentist regularly. 

Speak up about your fears

Don’t let your fear get the better of you. It’s important for you to speak up about your fear of the dentist, and your dentist needs to be able to reassure you that you’ll be okay. If you’re nervous or afraid, tell your dentist. Don’t hold back out of fear of being embarrassed. This is your health, and you need a dentist that you can trust for a positive experience. 

Agree on a signal

Agree on a gentle way to alert your dentist that you need to stop the procedure or that you’re in pain. Some patients require a hand signal, while others prefer raising a hand. These signals should be discussed well in advance of your appointment.

When you feel that the dentist is going to proceed beyond your comfort threshold, gently raise your hand a few inches and pause for a moment. The dentist will acknowledge your raised hand and gently prepare you for your next phase of treatment. For example, he or she may remove a tool from your mouth and give you a break. Patients often appreciate this subtle form of communication because it allows them to pay attention to the procedure while letting the practitioner know that they need a break or that they feel uneasy about the process.

Take a trusted person with you

Many patients feel nervous or fearful about an upcoming procedure. Even if there’s nothing wrong with your teeth, you may still feel nervous about seeing the dentist. If this sounds like you, bring a loved one along to your appointment for support. Having someone else with you may help you feel more at ease and comfortable in the dentist’s office.

Bring distractions

Most dental offices have TVs in the ceiling for patient entertainment during procedures. Distractions can help the visit go more smoothly. Some patients even bring headphones to listen to their favorite music or a podcast. Others have downloaded movies onto their tablets and brought those along with them to play while waiting for their appointment. Ask your dentist if they allow electronics at your appointment and if there are any restrictions in place. Then, you can decide if you want to bring your own device or rely on what is provided in the office.

Consider sedation dentistry

Sedation dentistry can help nervous patients receive the dental care they need without anxiety or pain. When patients are fearful and anxious, they may not be able to receive the care they need and can even develop oral health complications as a result. Sedatives can relax patients enough to allow them to receive the treatment they need without fear. Our dentists may recommend oral medication such as anti-anxiety pills, nitrous oxide gas, and conscious IV sedation for patients who have severe anxiety and need extensive procedures performed. Patients should remember to discuss their fears with their dentist beforehand so they can prepare the right sedative method for their needs.

To learn more, contact Dieterlen Dental at 3015 E. 91st Street, Tulsa, OK 74137, or call (918) 299-2400.

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