We aren’t sure exactly where the universal fear of going to the dentist came from, but it has become one of the most common phobias in the United States. As many as 15% of adults struggle with fears of attending their regular dental visits. And while most people can overcome this fear and maintain adequate oral health care, many people still avoid the dentist altogether.
It is entirely normal to be a bit apprehensive before a new experience, and your dental visits are no exception. This anxiety can come from the fear of the unknown itself or be related to other things like past experiences at the dentist, feelings of helplessness during a dental examination, low pain tolerance, and even shame or embarrassment from poor oral hygiene routines or missing routine cleanings.
Our Belle Meade Smile Center team knows what you are going through and is here to help you overcome your dental fear and get the oral health care you deserve without judgment. Our team provides premier, patient-focused care that results in healthy smiles and happy patients. Regular dental visits can keep minor problems from becoming severe issues, so check out our tips for overcoming your dental fears.
Discuss your fears with your provider before and during your appointment.
Since dental phobias and anxieties are so common, Dr. Shipp and his skilled team have plenty of experience working with patients who are apprehensive about their visits. Be sure to check our blogs for information specific to our office or your procedure and ask questions when making your appointment. The best way to calm fears and anxieties is to get them out of your way ahead of time, and we will help you understand every step.
We want you to feel comfortable and as relaxed as possible during your examinations and procedures, and we will create a plan for how to keep your mouth healthy while keeping you comfortable. Our experienced team is trained to respond to any anxiety you may be feeling so you can feel safe to discuss your fears at any point in your appointment.
Attend your appointments regularly.
It may be easier at the moment just to avoid what is making you anxious. Still, the best way to overcome this overwhelming feeling is to create a habit of facing that fear and attending your appointments regularly. Routine visits are not just exams but also deep cleanings that help remove tartar and plaque buildup to prevent tooth decay and gum disease like gingivitis. When you miss appointments, these things get worse, and it can become more embarrassing or trigger fears of the possible pain from treatment.
Bring a friend or family member to support and distract you.
Sometimes, having a familiar face close by during an experience full of unknowns can make us feel much more at ease. While they may not be able to be right by your side during your procedure, knowing you have support waiting on you is important. They can also help distract you while waiting and provide personal feedback for treatment options when you are unsure or overwhelmed. Bringing a support person to your dental visit may even be necessary if you will be using sedation during your procedure as you will not be able to drive after.
Try different personal relaxation techniques.
Most relaxation techniques are easy and harmless to try on your own and are entirely free. Deep-breathing, meditation, and stress-ball devices are some of the most common relaxation practices that can drastically reduce dental fears that stem from anxieties around your visit. Most of these practices are designed to slow your breathing and calm your blood flow, allowing you to feel more mindful and confident.
Some patients have found relief from their fears with visualization techniques like picturing themselves in calming environments like on vacation at the beach and focusing on the sounds, smells, and other sensations of the vision. Other patients find that visualizing each step of the appointment and thinking positively of the outcome of each step helps to reduce their fears during treatment.
Consider sedation dentistry.
Modern medicine doesn’t just alleviate headaches and lower blood sugars; it can also provide relaxation at different levels of consciousness through sedation. Sedation dentistry involves techniques that allow you to settle your nerves before and during treatment. These techniques can help you experience a more comfortable and relaxing appointment while minimizing or eliminating discomfort.
Here at Belle Meade Smile Center, we offer various types of sedation for our patients, including oral and IV sedation, as well as the non-invasive NuCalm relaxation technique that is comparably effective to traditional sedation without using medications or causing impairment. With oral and IV sedation, you are given a medication that helps reduce fears and encourages relaxation. You will feel a sense of calm, possible drowsiness, minor amnesia, and some tingling, and will need someone to both take you home from your appointment and keep an eye on you as the medications wear off.
NuCalm, on the other hand, is administered through headphones that play music containing rhythmic signals that differ from ear to ear, or binaural beats, to help change your brain waves from the rapid speeds of anxiety to the slower speeds typical at the edge of sleep. Neutralizing the stress response allows you to enter a state of deep relaxation without pills, gasses, or needles. There are no lingering effects; you can safely drive and function as usual immediately.
Let Belle Meade Smile Center ease your fears and make you smile!
We know how hard it can be to overcome obstacles in your life that keep you from getting the dental care you need. At Belle Meade Smile Center, our compassionate team understands your fears and will do all we can to ensure you get an experience that breaks down those fears, not adds to them.
Whether it’s your fear or shame from how long it’s been, get in touch with us to discuss how we can help remove some obstacles for you and schedule your appointment to get your oral health on the right track. Everyone deserves the self-confidence that comes with having a beautiful and healthy smile!