It is not a simple matter of 'sucking it up' and making it through a dental appointment for an anxiety sufferer. The thought of losing control of what is happening to you can be unbearable and can lead to avoidance of dental appointments. There are a few proven tips you can try to help you get through these extremely difficult appointments.
Communicate With the Dentist
It is very important to communicate with your dentist right from the first meeting. You should tell them you suffer from anxiety as there are many dentists who are trained to work with anxious patients and understand that this isn't just a fear of needles but a true disorder and will treat you accordingly. Tell your dentist if you want to know everything they are doing and in the same vein, if you wish to not know what's going on, tell them that too.
Aside from the usual pain medications a dentist can give you during treatment, a dentist may also offer sedation to help you relax and feel less anxious. Nitrous Oxide may be given through a face mask and the patient then inhales it. A patient may also be put to sleep under general anesthesia or through intravenous means.
There is also an electronically delivered anesthesia, which numbs the gums instead of injection. If your fear stems from pain, ask your dentist if this is a viable option.
More dentists are using distraction techniques for anxious patients. They may give you headphones to watch television or some may allow you to bring a music device so you can listen to soothing music or your favorite tunes during procedures.
Bring Someone With You
There are some dentists who allow a trusted person to sit with the patient during treatment. This helps you to feel more relaxed because you have someone you know whose presence can help soothe and calm you. If they are not allowed into the treatment room with you, you can be assured they are waiting for you in the office and often that helps to alleviate anxiety.
This suggestion can take an anxiety sufferer awhile to master so it's a good idea to begin practicing this before you head to the dentist. You can try meditation and controlled breathing exercises – where you concentrate on taking air into your lungs slowly and letting it out just as slowly. This form of deep breathing will calm you and relieve anxiety symptoms.
To learn more, visit Larsen-Haslem Dental.