Are you afraid of going to the dentist and getting any kind of dental work done? If so, you may be suffering from odontophobia. It can also be called dental phobia, dentophobia and in some cases, dental anxiety. They all describe the same feeling, which is the unease and sometimes crippling stress of going to the dentist. For some, this is reason enough to keep from going to the dentist altogether. This can pose problems because it may mean that those people deal with more dental issues that go undetected and end up causing even more harm than they might have initially.
For some, however, avoiding the dentist is just not realistic, especially in the case of emergency dental needs. If someone does something such as break a tooth, there is really no other way of solving the problem then to go to the dentist and have a professional fix it.
If you end up in a situation like this and you need to go to an emergency dentistry facility, here are a few tips to help you remain calm and manage anxiety while in the dentist’s chair.
- Grounding techniques- Practicing grounding techniques can be of help to you by keeping you present and focusing on things that are calming such as details of the room around you, sights, smells and more. These will help anxiety by bringing the focus to little details rather than the experience as a whole.
- Positive visualization- Think of things that make you happy such as happy memories, the beach, a concert you loved, etc. You can also visualize the future and how good it will feel to have conquered your dental fear and fixed your dental issues. Any of these types of thoughts can help you focus on the positive.
- Calming music- Many dentists will allow you to wear headphones during a procedure, especially if you are struggling with anxiety. If this is allowed, you can play the music that makes you the calmest or happy. Other options might be a podcast, stand up comedy or an audiobook.
- Cartoons- You may have seen that some dentists offices have small TVs or iPads set up so that children can watch cartoons as they have dental work done. This does not just have to be for children, however. Talk to your dentist about putting some other type of shows on the screen for you to watch and focus on. Whether this is the news or guilty pleasure reality TV, choose something that helps you relax.
- Sedation dentistry- If all else fails, you can opt for IV sedation dentistry, which easily put you ‘under’ and allow for your dentist to perform multiple dental procedures without any pain or anxiety on your part. Many patients opt for this because it is safe and effective.
It is normal to have some fear or trepidation about visiting the dentist, but if you find that your anxiety is nearly unmanageable, you can employ one of the above strategies to help you undergo your procedure with a calm demeanor and confidence.