At Union Dental Center, our goal is to help every single patient feel completely relaxed, at ease, and comfortable. But with over 80% of Americans suffering from some level of dental anxiety, we have our work cut out for ourselves. Know that you’re not alone and we have helped thousands of people overcome their fear with a variety of techniques.
It’s a challenge we happily accept, and we’re dedicated to changing our patients’ perception of what it means to go to the dentist.
How dental anxiety affects your health
When something scares you, what do you do? Avoid it at all costs!
This is true for those suffering from dental phobia, too. An estimated 9 to 15% of Americans avoid seeing the dentist altogether because of anxiety or fear (that’s 30 to 40 million people!).
Going to the dentist, getting preventive care, and addressing issues is critical to your dental and overall health. Letting your dental phobia hold you back you from going to the dentist or getting recommended treatments can lead to negative outcomes like…
- Stained and discolored teeth
- Chipped, breaking, and cracked teeth
- Gum disease
- Gum recession
- Cavities and tooth decay
- Mouth pain
- Tooth loss
Not to mention all the symptoms and risk factors for various other dental-related issues (like TMJ, sleep apnea, and even oral cancer) that will go undetected or untreated.
Going to the dentist is only for your benefit. Keeping this fact top of mind is important for your journey in overcoming your dental fears.
What are you afraid of? Recognizing your fear is the first step
Before you can overcome your dental phobia, you need to acknowledge and understand why it’s there in the first place.
After some reflection, you may discover that there’s just one thing or a combination of factors to blame.
For many, there’s an assumption that dental care is inherently painful. The thought of pain would cause anyone to be fearful! Thankfully, modern-day dental techniques and treatments are far less invasive and much more gentle and comfortable than in the past. Not to mention, a good dentist will do everything they can to ensure your visit doesn’t cause pain.
2. Loss of control & fear of the unknown
Sitting back in a dental chair makes some people nervous and claustrophobic. Others have trouble getting comfortable because they’re not sure what’s about to happen. Not knowing exactly what to expect and feeling out of control can be unnerving.
Dentist offices today take these fears into consideration and offer solutions. From amenities like eye masks, blankets, and headphones to help you relax to detailed explanations of exactly what’s going on during your treatment. We can use a combination of things to help your visit be as comfortable as possible.
3. Embarrassment about dental health
If a fear of the dentist has kept you from the dentist for many years, chances are you may be dealing with some bigger dental issues. Even if your teeth appear to be in good health, some people are worried they’ll “get in trouble” for taking so long to make an appointment, not flossing every day, or showing any signs of non-ideal maintenance .
Keep in mind though that the longer you put off going to the dentist, its likely the more embarrassed about your teeth you’ll be. Remember: we will never judge or lecture you about your past dental health choices–we are only here to help you achieve your optimal oral health.
4. Bad experience in the past
We’re sad to say it, but some dentists don’t take the time and effort to provide the best possible experience for patients. If you’ve ever been to a dentist like this, you may feel scarred from the memory. Whether it was being pressured into a treatment you didn’t want or not feeling welcome, these kind of experiences can make you distrustful.
You deserve better.
The good news is, there IS better out there. The trick is to find and work with an honest and trustworthy dentist who will treat you with respect and compassion. We will start with non-invasive, easy appointments so that we build a relationship based on trust and respect for your feelings.
6 more tricks for overcoming your dental anxiety
Now that you’ve identified the root of your fears, it’s time to take steps to move past them. Here are some tips for doing just that.
1. Find the right dentist
The right dentist can make all the difference. You’ll feel more comfortable and confident about the care you’re receiving. Look for a dentist who offers…
- A friendly, caring staff
- Great reviews from current patients
- Simple answers to all your questions
- A relaxing and comfortable office atmosphere
- Personalized and high-tech dental care and treatments
2. Use relaxation techniques and medications
Ahead of your appointment, take some time to get in the right mindset. Many people find it helpful to do stretches, meditation, or deep controlled breathing.
If you suffer from extreme anxiety, you may want to call up your dentist and ask about what type of sedation techniques may be appropriate to help you relax further.
We may decide to use nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and/or sedative medications to help reduce your anxiety to a minimum. We can discuss these possibilities at your consultation and come up with a customized regimen to meet your specific needs. These medications are extremely safe and effective for managing anxiety.
3. Bring a friend
Ask a friend or family member to join you during your appointment. Whether you want the person to wait out on the lobby during your appointment or in the room with you, having a supportive person nearby can help you feel safer and more relaxed.
4. Arrive early
Rushing to get to your appointment on time can cause you to get worked up. Don’t put unnecessary stress on the experience. Plan to arrive extra early to give yourself enough time to take it slow.
If it will help, arrive early enough to enjoy a few extra minutes in the lobby, talking to the front desk staff, asking questions, or just relaxing.
5. Let your dentist know!
While it’s unfortunate that dental anxiety is so common, it does means that your dentist has A LOT of experience helping people just like you. Don’t keep your fears bottled up — be sure to let your dentist and dental team know that you feel nervous.
Your dentist wants to give you the personalized care and special attention you need to help you have a relaxed and enjoyable experience.
6. Ask lots of questions
Throughout your appointment, be sure to voice any concerns, questions, or discomfort. Your dental team is there to help. Want to know about a specific instrument or treatment? Ask! Are you beginning to feel anxious and need a moment before continuing treatment? Let your dentist know.
A good dental team will gladly accommodate your requests, explaining what a sensation might be like and ensuring you’re comfortable the entire time.
We’re here to help
At Union Dental Center, we understand that for many, visiting a new dentist can be stressful. But here at our Havre de’ Grace dentist office, we do things differently.
If you suffer from dental anxiety, we’re here to help. Your appointment will be catered to your needs, ensuring you feel comfortable and relaxed throughout the appointment.
You’ll be informed and educated along the way and have plenty of time to ask questions and get the answers you need to feel confident.
Let us know what we can do to deliver the best possible experience.
Dr. Friedman earned his Doctorate of Dental Surgery from the University of Maryland, Baltimore College of Dental Surgery in 1996. For over 20 years, Dr. Friedman has been creating the smiles of his patients’ dreams. He believes that nothing should stand between you and a healthier smile.