If you experience dental anxiety, you’re not alone — some estimates say that as much as 75% of Americans experience some level of dental anxiety. In fact, more than 15% of people avoid going to the dentist completely because of their dental anxiety, which can have very expensive consequences.

Although this anxiety can manifest itself in many ways, many self-report that their dental anxiety stems from fear of pain or a sense of loss of control (or a combination of both!). Because this fear can result in missed check-ups, which help to prevent or treat conditions like gum disease, regaining a sense of control when going to the dentist should be a priority. But how do you do it? If you suffer from dental anxiety, we have a few tips for getting to your next appointment.

Anxiety free male patient awaits his hygiene checkup with a dental hygienist. Without him taking control of his anxiety he might be undiagnosed with gum disease or a cavity

Prepare! Knowledge Can Give You Control

The key to reducing dental anxiety before your appointment is in communicating with your dentist. Having a better idea of what to expect can make any situation less frightening, including the dental chair! For many patients, much of their fear stems from not knowing what the dentist is doing in their mouth. To resolve this, ask your dentist to walk you through what they’re going to be doing. If you can go over the steps together, you’ll be better prepared for what’s happening during your visit.

Also, don’t forget to tell your dentist about your fears. Dentists treat patients with dental anxiety every day, and they know ways to make you feel more comfortable. Being honest about what makes you anxious can help them better accommodate your needs. And of course, if your dentist doesn’t listen or take your concerns seriously, it’s time to find a new dentist!

Controlling Dental Anxiety During Your Appointment

Everyone knows how impossible it is to speak to your dentist while their hands are in your mouth. Because of this, many patients feel like once the procedure has started, they are powerless to inform their dentist of any concerns or needs. Speak to your dentist beforehand about establishing a “stop signal,” such as raising your hand in the air. That way, you can easily request a pause if your dental anxiety becomes overwhelming and you need a moment to collect yourself, get a drink of water, or go to the bathroom.

Sedation Dentistry is Always An Option

If your dental anxiety is too difficult to manage, you can still have a healthy mouth. Sedation dentistry offers several options to help curve your anxiety the day of your appointment, and not all of the them require drugs.

If dental anxiety has been keeping you from the dentist, give us a call at (907) 349-0022 or contact us to meet our team at Excellence in Dentistry today. We look forward to helping you if you are in the Anchorage, Alaska