Category Archives: fear of the dentist

“I’m afraid to go to the dentist!”

Pretty girl sitting at the dentist's and having dentist appointmentA fear of the dentist is very real to those with dental fear and anxiety. Dentaphobia is also very common; some estimates put the amount of Americans with dental anxiety at approximately 30-40 million. A fear of the dentist can have some very unfortunate consequences; an unwillingness to go to the dentist can result in more dental issues and expense. Dental cleanings and exams can prevent tooth decay and problems that can progress into serious (and painful conditions). The good news is that there is hope for those dealing with dental fear and anxiety; use these tips to schedule and keep those dental appointments.

Choose a good dentist.

A good experience in the dentist office starts and ends with the staff and dentist. Select a dentist with the expertise and demeanor that puts every patient at ease. When sifting through customer reviews, look for dentists with reviews that refer to a dental fear and a good experience. If the dental fear is related to calling the dentist, add making online appointments to the criteria list for a good dentist.

Know the source of your anxiety.

There are numerous reasons behind a dental fear: a difficult past experience, fear of the cost, anxiety about the tools or the possibility of pain. Every patient has a different reason behind their fear. Identify the source of the dental fear and anxiety; this vital first step can help with forming a plan to help deal with any fears or anxieties. Don’t be afraid to be honest with the dentist and dental staff about the anxiety. Many dentist offices can take steps to assist patients with a dental fear. If sitting in a waiting room is a trigger for anxiety, arrive at the time of the appointment and notify the dental office of the fact and reason behind it.

Have a coping strategy.

Don’t wait to deal with dental fear; this can lead to putting off vital dentist appointments and care. Instead, take steps before and on the day of the appointment so the experience is positive and leaves a lasting good impression that carries over to the next experience.

Utilize relaxation techniques.

Relaxation is the key to a pleasant experience; learn relaxation techniques before the day of the appointment. Don’t hesitate to use deep breathing or use another relaxation technique at and before the appointment. Think positive thoughts and reminders before and in the dentist office. If the fear is related to anxiety about pain, discuss options for pain treatment and sedation with the dental staff before and at the appointment.

Distract, distract, distract.

Distractions are a powerful tool when dealing with a dental fear and anxiety. Bring along music and earphones, a book on tape, or a stress ball that can take the mind off the procedure. A friend or family member in the office can also be helpful with reminders to be calm.

Get a quote.

One of the most common dental fears revolves around the cost of the appointment. This fear can also be appeased with advanced preparation. If dental insurance is available, call the insurance company to verify that the dentist is within network (if applicable) and that the procedure is covered. In either case, contact the dentist before the appointment to get a quote that can be used for approval by insurance or for the purpose of putting funds away for payment. A dental savings plan can assist with the savings process. Look for a savings plan with minimal waiting periods and priori authorizations. Be cautious about plans with a yearly maximum allowance or a large amount of paperwork.

Contact a counselor.

Don’t let a dental fear delay vital oral health treatment. If needed, search for an expert that can assist with developing a strategy for coping with a dental fear and anxiety.

8 Tips for Enjoying Your Next Dentist Visit

Pretty girl sitting at the dentist's and having dentist appointmentYour next dentist appointment should be anticipated, not dreaded or feared. If your emotions fall with the latter, chances are you have a reason behind your reluctance to go to the dentist. You’re worried about what your dentist is going to tell you. You don’t have insurance. You’re just not looking forward to it.

Your dentist appointment doesn’t have to feel like the proverbial root canal. A dentist appointment can actually be a pleasant experience, especially if you use these tips.

Choose your dentist carefully.

Obviously, we usually look forward to seeing people we are comfortable with; that definitely applies to your dentist. Find a dentist that you want to see at your next dentist appointment; someone you trust with the care of your mouth and are comfortable talking to about oral health concerns (and any anxieties or fears you have). Search for dentists that get good online reviews, are highly recommended by friends and family, take your dental insurance (if you have it), and make you feel comfortable and at ease.

Face your fear.

An estimated 30-40 million Americans have a fear of the dentist. Unfortunately, that fear can stand in the way of regular dental care and lead to a host of dental issues. If you have a dental phobia, select a dentist that calms your anxiety. Be upfront with the dentist about your fears (even before you come in, like when you make the appointment); they may recommend certain tactics for dealing with your fear.

Know exactly how much you owe.

One of the most common reasons for avoiding the dentist is the cost. Like a fear of the unknown, it’s hard to walk into the dentist office not knowing how much it is going to cost for dental care. Instead, contact the dentist office before your appointment. Ask for an exact quote for dental care, and be very clear with staff that you need them to stay within the scope of work. To alleviate the impact of the cost, ask your dentist if they offer a health savings plan that allows you to save funds for all dental work.

Keep up with your brushing and flossing.

“What is the dentist going to tell me? What if it’s a cavity?” Another common concern is fear of what the dentist might say. While you can’t control many dental problems, you can keep up with regular brushing and flossing. Brush twice a day, and floss often. Use a fluoride rinse to strengthen teeth so you can feel secure in the fact that you’re doing your best to keep serious dental issues at bay.

Bring along a support system (if needed).

It’s okay to bring along someone to hold your hand, especially if you are anxious about the experience. Bring along a family or friend who you trust and can put your mind at ease during the appointment. If you are nervous that you won’t feel up to voicing any questions or concerns, have your friend or family member read the issues off the list to the dentist.

Schedule your appointment for a “less busy” day.

Your dentist appointment is going to go more smoothly if you are in the right state of mind when you walk in the door. Schedule the appointment for a day when you are not in a hurry or stressed and can prepare yourself for the dental appointment.

Take along a book or soothing music.

It’s okay to distract yourself while in the dentist chair. While you can’t answer e-mails or play games on your phone, you can take along a book to keep your mind off of your anxiety and soothing music to ease your stress during your appointment.

Have a list of questions and/or concerns.

One of the biggest disappointments that can accompany a dentist appointment is feeling like you didn’t have all your questions answered and concerns addressed. When you go to an appointment, have a list of questions and concerns prepared and ready for the dentist. A few minutes of planning can leave you feeling satisfied with your dentist and your experience.