Do the thoughts of whirring drills and latex gloves in your mouth make you queasy? You are unsurprisingly not alone.
As many as 75% of Americans actively experience fear when it comes to dental visits, and up to 15% of the population refuses regular annual visits due to their severe dental anxiety. Dental appointments are among the most important medical appointments that one can make, therefore, fear is not an option!
These tips from Dr. Leslie Renee Townsend, DDS., Regional Dental Director of Jefferson Dental Clinics can alleviate common anxiety surrounding dental visits.
Ask questions during consultation. “Patient questions are always welcomed,” says Dr. Townsend. “We want to make sure that patients have a firm understanding of their treatments, but also have the opportunity to ask any questions before we begin the work.”
For those with high anxiety, Dr. Townsend recommends asking for explanations of the tools and processes so that there are no surprises during treatment. Dental professionals are accustomed to managing various anxiety and pain tolerance levels, as well as concerns about treatments, so there is never any reason to feel insecure.
Vocalize your concerns prior to treatment. “Addressing the patients’ needs first makes the appointment run more smoothly,” adds Dr. Townsend. “If you have scheduled your dental visit for a particular reason, speak up and let the staff know so that they can swiftly accommodate your needs and work to relieve any pain you may feel.”
Take short breaks in between procedures and breathe deeply. Practice a three-count deep breathing technique. 1.Inhale slowly, concentrating on completely filling every inch of your lungs with air. You should feel your lungs expanding. 2. Pause at the top of the breath for one second. 3. Fully exhale, releasing every last breath of air from your lungs. 4. Repeat the process three times.
“Keep in mind that dental staff is there to alleviate pain and to make you comfortable throughout your appointment,” says Dr. Townsend, “It is our job to make sure you leave with your best smile!”
Regular dental appointments every six month are very important for professional cleanings and to screen for potential health issues. Talk to your dentist about your anxieties and work together to come up with a treatment plan that works best for you.