For some people, even the thought of visiting the dentist can stir up intense anxiety and fears. In severe cases, a person’s anxiety may even prevent him or her from visiting the dentist.

Unfortunately, dismissing routine dental care can lead to numerous oral health issues and negative outcomes including:

  • Stained or discolored teeth
  • Chipped, breaking and cracked teeth
  • Gum disease
  • Gum recession
  • Cavities and tooth decay
  • Tooth loss

Whether your dental fears stem from a poor childhood experience or a painful dental visit as an adult, rest assured that with help from an experienced dentist, you can beat your dental fears and get the dental treatment you need.

The Importance of Routine Dental Care

The importance of keeping up with your routine dental appointments cannot be overstated. Regular cleanings and exams form the foundation of good preventive care and optimal oral health. During these routine visits, dentists can identify early signs of cavities, gum disease and other common problems, and offer proper treatment before those problems get worse.

Tips to Ease Your Dental Fears

The good news is that it is possible to ease your fears of the dentist and attain the care you need to keep your teeth and mouth healthy.

  • Find the right dentist. The first step to easing your dental fears is to find a dentist in your area you can trust. Look for a dental practice that offers:
    • A welcoming, caring staff
    • A comfortable, relaxed office atmosphere
    • Positive reviews from existing patients
    • Personalized dental care and treatment
  • Talk to your dentist about your fears. Once you have found a dentist, set up an appointment to talk about your dental anxiety. Dentists have the skills and experience to help fearful patients just like you. Your dentist is trained to treat nervous patients and can work with you to get the personalized care needed to help you have a relaxed and enjoyable experience.
  • Utilize distractions. Simple tactics or devices can be helpful for increasing comfort level during dental appointments and taking your mind off the procedure. This can include watching a show from the dentist’s chair or listening to soothing music on your headphones to help pass the time and drown sounds during treatment.
  • Rally support from a friend or family member. Some people find comfort in having a supportive loved one nearby in the waiting room during their visits to help alleviate anxiety. Ask someone you trust to accompany you to your next appointment.
  • Consider sedation dentistry. If you have severe anxiety, talk to your dentist about what type of sedation dentistry technique may be beneficial to help you relax during treatment. Sedation dentistry can range from “minimal” sedation all the way to “deep” sedation to help relax patients during procedures.

These medications are extremely safe and effective for managing anxiety and helping you feel calm throughout your dental experience. Common forms of sedation dentistry include nitrous oxide (laughing gas), oral sedation and IV sedation.

Bottom line: Dental anxiety should never halt your journey to better oral health. Talk to your dentist about your fears and learn about your options for creating a more positive, relaxed dental experience.

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