Experts estimate that about 15% of adults in the United States have dental anxiety. Although most of those people manage to get the care they need, some are overcome by their anxiety and are at a greater risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and a host of other problems because they don’t go to the dentist regularly.
At Lansdowne Herndon Smile Design, we want to help ease your anxiety. If you experience anxiety when you think about going to the dentist, you might find these proven strategies helpful.
Communicate your worries
First, tell Dr. Amirreza Rafaat and his staff how you feel. He wants you to be as comfortable as possible during your appointment, and talking about your fears might be enough to help soothe them.
For some people, knowing exactly what to expect during a dental appointment helps them feel in control and less anxious. Others, however, prefer to not know, and hearing Dr. Rafaat describe what he’s doing ratchets up their fear. By talking about your anxiety, you can communicate your preferences.
Learn a bit about pain relief
Modern dentistry can be nearly painless, thanks to an array of options when it comes to pain relief. There are several levels of sedation available during dental procedures, from inhaled minimal sedation to general anesthesia.
The one that’s right for you depends on numerous factors. Talking to Dr. Rafaat about your anxiety and learning what type of sedation he thinks will work best for you is very likely to help ease your fears.
Use a distraction technique
If you love music, consider making a playlist to listen to while you’re at the dentist. If you enjoy audiobooks or podcasts, you may find that listening to one of your favorites helps distract you.
A fidget spinner may seem silly, but playing with one could help distract you during your dental appointment, as could a stress ball. Anything that might help you feel calm and not focused on your anxiety could be a useful tool.
There are several relaxation techniques that you could practice before your appointment at Lansdowne & Herndon Smile Design. Then during your appointment, you use the technique you practiced to remain calm.
Breathing exercises are helpful because they give you something to think about and because your breathing is related to your level of relaxation. First, practice simply becoming aware as you inhale and exhale. Move to counting as you inhale, holding your breath for a few counts, then counting as you exhale.
Another technique you may want to explore is progressive relaxation, where you contract, then relax, all of your muscles from your toes to your head. Mentally focus on one muscle at a time, contracting, then relaxing. Move from your toes to your feet, ankles, calves, and so on.
Dental care is an integral part of good health. Don’t let your anxiety keep you from this important part of a healthy lifestyle. Book an appointment online or by phone at Lansdowne & Herndon Smile Design and discuss your anxiety with Dr. Rafaat.