Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States, affecting nearly 40 million Americans over the age of 18. Even more surprising is how anxiety can affect oral health. As it turns out, many American adults who haven’t been to the dentist in several years have a secret: they’re afraid of the dentist.

Dental anxiety has, according to a recent study, kept between 9 and 20 percent of Americans from seeing the dentist. Without intervention, those with anxiety have reported that responses ranging from general uneasiness to an outright panic attack have occurred in past dental visits, dissuading them from returning.

If you’ve been avoiding the dentist because of dental anxiety, you could be at a higher risk for gum disease and tooth loss, which could make dental visits even worse. However, there is a solution to cope with dental anxiety.

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7 Tips to Relieve Dental Anxiety

For some people, dental anxiety is manageable by following some of these tips!

1. Find a New Dentist

Sometimes dental anxiety is simply fueled by a dentist who is not the right fit. It’s okay if you don’t like your dentist. Maybe they didn’t listen to your concerns before. However, this is no reason to suffer from dental anxiety. Instead, just find a new dentist in Anchorage. If you’re searching for a new dentist, our dentists at Excellence in Dentistry would love your consideration. Dr. Skinner and Dr. Fox both understand how dental anxiety can affect a patient and offer many solutions to help patients feel comfortable.

2. Be Open With Your Dentist

Your dentist isn’t a mind reader. If you suffer from dental anxiety, let them know. When they’re aware of your anxiety, they will know to take extra breaks during your procedure and repeatedly check in with you to ensure you feel comfortable.

3. Take Breaks During Your Procedure

Sometimes just taking little breaks during your procedure can help reduce anxiety. Maybe ask your dentist to take a short break between each step of the procedure. This can help you focus on just getting through each individual section instead of the entire procedure.

4. Stay Distracted

Another way to stay calm during your appointment is by keeping yourself distracted. Try focusing on a TV show, movie, music, or podcast throughout your procedure. This can keep you calm and distract you from what’s going on in your mouth.

5. Bring a Friend For Support

Sometimes having a friend with you is the most comforting way to keep you calm. Ask someone you love and trust if they will accompany you to your dental appointment to keep you relaxed. They can even hold your hand if it helps!

6. Schedule Your Appointment For First Thing in the Morning

There’s nothing worse than having to spend the entire day worrying about going to the dentist. Instead of putting yourself through that torture, schedule your appointment for first thing in the morning. That way, after you wake up and get ready, you will go to the dentist and then have the rest of the day to enjoy your time.

7. Get Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry, also called “sleep dentistry,” does not necessarily cause unconsciousness. Instead, it is an approach to dentistry that provides those with mild to severe dental phobia with the peace of mind to undergo needed dental procedures.

One method of sedation dentistry involves a prescribed oral sedative to use before a visit. The sedative puts the patient in a state of relaxation and calm. Other methods can include the use of nitrous oxide (laughing gas), which offers a mild form of sedation, or IV sedation for those with severe dental phobia. IV sedation, only offered by dentists with specific training and equipment, allows for deeper levels of sedation and can work quickly and give you more control over your sedation levels.

Over the long-term, it can have the effect of helping to eliminate dental anxiety altogether.

Other benefits can include:

  • Controlling a gag reflex
  • Less pain
  • Avoiding muscle soreness

Sedation dentistry can also make larger procedures more convenient by consolidating appointments into one, longer appointment.

Is Sedation Dentistry in Anchorage Right for Me?

When considering sedation dentistry, patients should consider whether they would benefit from sedation to control anxiety, whether they are allergic to medications, and whether they’re in good health. For the most part, any patient who suffers from dental anxiety is typically a good candidate for sedation dentistry. Contact our dental office to learn more at (907) 349-0022.