Overcoming Dental Fear: 7 Keys to the Care You Deserve

Sep 24, 2021

Dentist Chair

When we consider our health, we know what needs to happen. But often, it’s easier said than done. In our busy lives, obstacles come between us and healthcare. Between deployments, moves, and family calendars, everyone’s moving full-speed ahead. And even when quality care is accessible, anxiety or embarrassment can keep us from taking the next step.

Fear serves us when we’re in survival mode, but sometimes it prevents us from taking care of ourselves. In fact, up to 75% of the population feels some anxiety when facing dental care. And 22% of people completely avoid the dentist due to fear.

Past negative experiences amplify dental fear, and some people simply feel embarrassed by their oral health. Regardless of the root cause, consider these keys to receive the care you deserve:

Helpful ways to move forward.

Do Your Research:
Ask friends, family, or your unit for recommendations for dentists, and let them know you need a provider who is gentle, compassionate, and kind. Check online reviews, and feel free to call a nearby office to ask questions. A sense of connection and initial trust can help you feel more comfortable.

Talk About It: Don’t hide your anxiety from the dental team. They’re experts in helping patients with their care, and they want to know how they can help. Plus, you’ll be able to learn about the team’s approach to patient comfort and safety by their reactions. Offices that serve military communities understand the unique stressors you face.

Get Familiar: You may find it reduces your anxiety to learn more about the procedure and what to expect. The team can explain the steps, instruments, and time involved in each appointment. The key is to let the team know how much information you’d like before your treatment.

Ask For Control: One primary source of dental fear is a patient’s sense that they’ve lost control in the dental chair. Establish a straightforward way to communicate with your providers during treatment if you’re experiencing discomfort or need a break.

Talk About Sedation: If you need a little help to reduce your anxiety, don’t hesitate to discuss your options for sleep dentistry. Nitrous oxide, known as laughing gas, may be enough to calm your anxiety. But if you need more support, your dentist can help you explore deeper forms of relaxation.

Pick a Distraction: Dental office sounds may heighten anxiety, and simple techniques can make a difference. Noise-canceling headphones or music from your phone help you relax during procedures. Some patients find listening to a meditation app, like Calm, gives them a relaxing focus before, during, or after an appointment.

Breathe: We tend to hold our breath when we’re nervous, and shallow breathing also increases the stress response. Practice controlled breathing before your appointment, and return to this technique during treatment. Breathe deep while counting to four, hold for four, then exhale counting to four. Counting adds a distraction that you can focus on while supplying your body with oxygen.

Take a step and discover better health.

Good oral health contributes to the quality of life and produces benefits, 24-7. The mouth is also the gateway to the body, and mouth bacteria have been linked to other diseases, like stroke and diabetes.

A skilled dental team understands that anxiety keeps some patients from choosing dental care, and they bring highly effective solutions to anxious people of all ages. Providers that serve military families understand you may not be at their office for many years, but they’ll do their best for you while you’re there. That caring approach makes comfortable treatment available to everyone!