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Many people experience a certain amount of apprehension before a dentist appointment or any type of doctors appointment for that matter. If this nervous energy is preventing you from going to the dentist and getting the care you need, you may be experiencing a form of dental anxiety or phobia.

Did you know: An estimated 80% of Americans have some anxiety regarding dental treatment and 14% of them feel intense dental anxiety.

At The Winning Smile Dental Group, we’re focused on helping people throughout Mississippi overcome their fear of the dentist through our caring, customized, and comfortable approach to dentistry.

Keep reading to learn about the common types of dental fears we encounter in patients and our simple tips for overcoming these phobias and achieving the healthy teeth and beautiful smile you deserve.

Common dental phobias (and a better way to view these fears)

Whether it’s just one thing about the dentist that messes with your anxiety, or a combination of factors, the first step for finding relief is acknowledging and understanding your fear.

Embarrassment about bad teeth

If your phobia has kept you from visiting the dentist for years (or maybe even your whole life), then your teeth and gums may need a little extra care and attention. You may feel embarrassed by your teeth or worried the dentist will get upset with you for not properly caring for your health. This is a vicious cycle though, as the longer you put off going to the dentist the more worried you’ll be! You know that saying, “better late than never”? Try to adopt this mindset. It doesn’t matter what you did before, the point is that you’re willing to take control of your health today. A good dentist will never judge or lecture you about your past dental health choices.

Loss of control

For some people, the dental chair contributes to feeling slightly trapped or claustrophobic. For others, someone standing over their head makes them feel out of control. If this is the case for you, an eye mask, heavy blanket, or a pair of headphones might be exactly what you need to feel more secure. Perhaps you’d like to feel more involved by having the dentist show you what’s going on with x-ray images. Or maybe you’d like the dentist to explain exactly what’s going on during your cleaning and exam, or other dental treatment. If being in the chair makes you feel unnerved, think about what would make you more comfortable and tell your dentist. They’ll be happy to accommodate any reasonable requests. A caring dentist will even have comforting amenities and high-tech equipment to help you relax.

Discomfort

No one wants to experience pain, so it’s understandable that the thought of a dental treatment causing discomfort would make you feel nervous. Thankfully, modern-day dentistal techniques and treatments are far less invasive and much more comfortable than they used to be. Additionally, a trusted dentist will do everything in their power to ensure you aren’t experiencing pain during treatment. To help calm your fears, it can be helpful to identify what exactly you think will cause you pain. Is it needles? Maybe you associate the sound of a drill or the vibration of an ultrasonic cleaning instrument with pain? Talk to your dentist about what to expect from these instruments or a specific treatment. Your dental team will gladly explain what the sensation will be like and how they can make the treatment more comfortable.

Simple steps for dealing with dental anxiety

Once you’ve acknowledged your fears, there are some simple and practical steps you can take to ensure your next dental visit is a positive (and not scary) experience.

1. Find the right dentist

With advancements in dentistry and an industry-wide focus on providing more relaxed and customized care, there is no reason you shouldn’t have a 5-star experience every single dentist visit. Make sure you chose a dentist who is dedicated to not only your dental health and wellness, but your comfort. Here are a few things to look for:

  • A friendly, caring staff
  • Simple answers to all your questions
  • Relaxing amenities like noise cancelling headphones or blankets and neck pillows
  • Care that’s personalized to your needs
  • High-tech equipment and treatments

2. Bring a buddy to your appointment

You may find it helpful to bring a support person to your visit. For some, simply knowing this person is out in the waiting room is enough. Others like their buddy to sit in the room during the appointment. Just be sure to let your dentist know ahead of time that you’ll be bringing someone along with you so they can be prepared, too.

3. Arrive early for your visit

Rushing to an appointment can cause extra anxiety. Give yourself some extra time, and plan on getting to your appointment early. Sitting in the waiting room and reading a magazine, enjoying a warm beverage, or asking the front desk staff questions will help you feel more at ease in the environment before you head to the dental chair.

4. Communicate your anxiety

At the beginning of this article, we mentioned how common it is for people to feel anxious about the dentist. This means your dentist has experience helping thousands of patients who are nervous just like you. So tell them how you’re feeling! Your dentist wants to provide customized care and the best possible experience for you, so give them a heads up that you may require a little extra attention to feel comfortable.

5. Use sedatives when appropriate

If you need a larger dental treatment or you experience extreme fear to the point of anxiety attack, talk to your dentist about what type of sedation techniques may be appropriate to help you relax. You may also want to try some relaxation techniques to relax your muscles and slow your heartbeat. One such method is controlled breathing, which involves taking a big breath and letting it out very slowly.

Let us know how we can help

Start following these tips above and little by little, you’ll find that going to the dentist is not as scary as you previously believed. In fact, you might even start to enjoy the experience! Plus, the more you visit the dentist, the better your dental health will be, and the less amount of dental work you’ll need to maintain a healthy smile.

At The Winning Smile Dental Group, we’re focused on providing a comfortable and reassuring atmosphere for our patients. If you’re trying to overcome your anxiety or fear, let us know. Our team wants to bring out the best in your smile and provide the highest-quality dental care in Mississippi. We’re here to meet your needs and exceed your expectations.