The Science of Dental Anxiety: How to Overcome Your Fear of the Dentist

You can beat dental anxiety

It’s time to conquer the fear!

Unfortunately, dental anxiety, or dental phobia, is quite common. Sometimes it is brought on by past traumatic experiences, other times, it is due to a fear of needles. There are many different reasons why someone could be nervous, or downright scared to go to their regular scheduled dental visits. But that’s okay! If you are one of these people, you are not alone, and there are ways to help you over this hurdle and on to cleaner, happier teeth.  

Don’t worry, it’s common!

When you struggle with anxiety of any kind, it can feel alienating. You often feel as though no one really understands and no one truly wants to help. Thankfully, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

It is estimated that up to 80% of Americans have some form of dental anxiety. That means that your dental providers have definitely seen it all before. It also means that your friends likely know exactly what you are going through when you tell them you have an upcoming dental appointment and how you feel.

Your dental anxieties are real, and we completely understand. We want to work with you to come up with a plan to help you perfect and maintain that beautiful smile.

Open Communication

Having open communication with your dental providers can go a long way in combating dental anxieties and fears. Remember the communication starts the moment you make the appointment. That way, if sedation dentistry might be helpful for your specific case, your dental provider can have everything prepared for you.

Don’t be afraid to tell your dental team if something traumatic happened in the past. Explain to them what you are worried about! If you would like to have the dental team give you a step-by-step explanation while they work, ask for it. On the other hand, if you’d rather not know, tell them that too! Your dental team will want to work with you every step of the way to make the experience as comfortable as possible for you.

Coping Strategies

Those of us who suffer from anxiety may just wish for the entire situation to disappear. Unfortunately, disassociating or checking out from the entire ordeal doesn’t always do what is needed. The solution your brain truly craves is to just stay home and forget about the appointment entirely. But your teeth will thank you if you do what you can to get to the dentist.

When preparing for your upcoming appointment, try to take the time to visualize it. If you regularly see a therapist, they can help you with this as well. Keep breathing slowly and remember that you are in complete control. Practice what you will do when you get to any specific part that worries you the most. Run through what you are going to say to your dental hygienist. Do you have any fun stories you can share? Maybe make a list!

Visualization looks different for everyone, and that is okay. Just don’t push it too hard. If you feel yourself going into a panic, back up and remember to breathe. 

When you are feeling the anxiety bubble up inside, try some deep breathing exercises. If you have headphones, pop those in and pull up a calming YouTube video to either guide you, or fill your brain with some relaxing sounds and sights of nature.

Remember to ground yourself whenever you feel the anxiety threaten to creep in. Find something that uses each of the five senses. What can you feel, taste, smell, see, or hear? This can help bring you back to the present moment instead of letting your brain run wild.

Sedation Options

For some people who suffer from extreme dental anxiety, coping strategies aren’t quite enough. When this is the case, sedation dentistry might be the key to help keep you calm, but also keep your teeth in tip-top shape. Remember, there are multiple kinds of sedation options. Here at King Dental, we offer both IV sedation and conscious sedation to help meet you where you are in your dental journey. If you want to know more about whether sedation dentistry might help with your dental anxieties, jump on over here!

Consistency Matters

Though the niggling dental anxiety doesn’t want to hear this one, it’s the truth. Keeping consistent with your dental visits makes a difference in both your overall dental health and anxiety. Keeping up with your regular-scheduled cleanings every six months can help keep potential problems at bay, hopefully keeping the process quick, easy, and predictable. 

We understand!

When dealing with dental anxiety or dental phobia, remember that you aren’t alone. Your peers likely understand or have gone through their own version in the past. Your dentist and their entire staff completely understand! Keep the communication open with your dental staff and let them help you.

Whether you need sedation dentistry to help you power through, or if some communication and coping techniques might do the trick, we want to help you through it. Feel free to call us and let us work with you. We want you to be calm and have a good experience.  

King Dental