I have never liked the dentist nor have I ever had perfect teeth. Growing up, I can recall having dental professional question my oral hygiene and practices and they always had me leaving feeling a little less of myself. I am not proud to admit it, but I have not been to the dentist in a while and I have felt my anxiety increase and increase and I don’t want my kids to pick up on that.
Tomorrow I have my first dental appointment for some time. It took balls for me to make an appointment, to confirm with them a few days ago, and to fill out all the new patient forms today. The anxiety I feel can’t be described and I know it’s irrational and “silly”, but I can’t help it. It’s increased due to my general doctor anxiety I am experiencing now so it should be interesting tomorrow.
I am not afraid of any procedures, pain, or anything like that. For me my fears come from a deep-rooted anxiety of my teeth just crumbling and falling out combined with the feeling I have being treated as a young adult from dentists. I take my oral care very seriously — brushing religiously for 2 minutes, two or three times a day with special toothpaste and a fancy professional toothbrush. I have been told I floss obsessively as well and yet having undiagnosed celiac disease for 25 years, your teeth can take a beating from that.
I have been doing a lot of reading and talking about anxiety in general and many of the tips I’ve put into place for my “any-ol-doctor” anxiety can be put into place for dentists as well. I am hoping that keeping an open mind about this dentist office that’s been great with my kids, letting go of the fear of being judged, and these tips in hand — tomorrow will go smoothly.
Acknowledge exactly what you’re fear stems from
I know where my fear stems from — a feeling of being judged. Yours may be a fear of being in close proximity, fear of the needles or freezing or fear from pain. Understanding where the basics of your fears come from can help you communicate more to your dentist about what will get you the most comfortable care.
Talk to your dentist
I hide anxiety well from others, but it’s totally there. I plan on talking with my new dentist tomorrow to communicate my anxiety (and give it a level 11 out of 10). Knowing what my fear comes from I can talk about how I feel about my oral health, my hygiene, and what I need from the dentist. I would be happier if they didn’t go into too great detail over all the work that potentially needs to be done and just give me the cold-hard facts on where to go from here.
Find an office with low waiting in office times
I get very anxious waiting for my appointments in the waiting room. The sounds and smells can increase the anxiety and I recognize that. I made myself a morning appointment and hopefully the office won’t be too busy and keep me waiting.
Get all the information — ask questions
I think for me, I prefer not to ask too many questions, but if you’re weary about the dentist because you’re not sure if they can be trusted (money hungry etc), so make sure you have a lot of time to get out all the questions you have. If your dentist doesn’t let you have that time, find a new dentist. Have them set up a treatment plan with choices you can make complete with procedure times, risks/benefits, and cost. A good dentist won’t mind if you go get another opinion.
Make your next appointment before you leave
Making the appointment was hard for me — it’s embarrassing for me to admit, but it really, really was. I know that in order for that initial anxiety to go away, I need to make sure I make another appointment before I leave that way I won’t put it off like I will be tempted to do.
Music does a lot to relax me and I have a certain play mix that I play to myself using headphones whenever I feel really anxious. It’s calming to me and it will drown out the noises from the dental professionals talking to each other and the sounds of the tools. Many offices now have televisions with headphones as well to help keep you distracted through the visit.
Ask about sedation
Many dental offices offer a wide variety of sedation methods to make sure you’re anxiety and pain is at a minimum. I probably won’t be doing any (because I am pregnant), but I also fear that relying on sedation won’t take the before appointment anxiety down any. I want to one day, be very comfortable going and my idea goal would be to enjoy going to the twice-yearly cleanings. Fingers crossed!
:: Do you have anxiety or fear of the dentist? Share your tips for making it easier ::
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