We know there’s not a quick-fix for alleviating your anxiety or fear of the dentist, especially if it’s something you’ve been struggling with for years and years. However, we have seen some of our patients significantly reduce – or even eliminate – the stress associated with their dental appointments, and we wanted to share these observations with you. Below are 5 ways to alleviate your fear of the dentist based on what we’ve seen and heard from our patients over the years.
1. Choose the Right Dentist.
As odd as it may sound, one of the best ways to overcome your fear of the dentist is by simply finding the right dentist in the first place. We hear about bad dental experiences more often than you might think, and often it’s the dentist’s demeanor during the initial consultation or how the dentist handles the procedure itself that exacerbates a patient’s dental anxiety or fear.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to ensure you’re working with a dentist who always puts you first. Does your dentist take the time to listen to you? Does he or she ask follow-up questions and seem genuinely interested in your anxieties, fears and concerns? When performing dental procedures, does he or she check-in with you periodically to ask about your comfort level or if you need to take a break? Do you ever feel like your dentist is rushing through the appointment or already thinking about the next patient?
These details may seem small, but they can make a world of difference in your overall patient experience.
2. Talk About Your Fear, Anxiety or Past Experiences.
We believe that it’s helpful for patients to talk about their fears, anxieties or past negative experiences. Our thinking is that, if you can identify and articulate your fear, it’s easier for us to address it. For example, some people are fearful of needles, a common and perfectly understandable fear. However, what people might not realize is that we can apply a numbing gel prior to administering the local anesthetic in order to offset the prick of the needle or the sting of the anesthetic. By expressing this concern to us, the patient can take control of their fear, and we can respond to it by letting them know one of the ways we address it.
Your fears, no matter how silly or serious they may seem to you, are always legitimate and worthy of our respect and consideration. That’s why you’ll never hear us say things like “that’s no big deal” or “there’s nothing to be afraid of.” We’re genuinely interested in your fears and anxieties because we are genuinely interested in helping you overcome them.
3. Bring Someone to the Appointment with You.
If you are especially anxious about a consultation or an appointment, you might consider bringing someone with you. The simple act of having a family member or friend close by – someone who understands and appreciates your anxiety – can provide you with added comfort and peace of mind before, during and after the appointment. For our IV sedation dentistry appointments, we will require that someone accompany you to the appointment so that they can drive you home afterward. We will even follow up with that individual in the 24-48 hours following your appointment to ensure your recovery is going as smoothly as planned.
4. Don’t Be Embarrassed About Your Teeth.
If you have avoided the dentist for months, years or even decades, you may be dealing with damaged teeth, dental decay or other problems. For some people, these problems have become a source of embarrassment or shame – so much so that they would rather hide their oral health issues than confront them head-on. Even chronic bad breath can prevent some patients from scheduling an appointment.
The truth is, however, that Dr. Harris sees patients every day with wide-ranging oral health issues. His job as a dentist is to evaluate these issues – and correct them! When you visit Greenville Family Dentistry, you never need to worry about being judged about the current state of your oral health. Our staff is caring and compassionate, and Dr. Harris presents treatment options in a non-judgmental, forward-looking way. Our number one concern, after all, is ensuring you get the treatment you need and deserve.
5. Take Advantage of Sedation Dentistry Options.
Perhaps the most effective way to address your dental anxiety or fear is by taking advantage of our sedation dentistry services. To put your mind at ease, we offer two types of sedation dentistry: laughing gas sedation and IV sedation dentistry. To determine which of the two options is right for you, we will consult with you and make a recommendation based on a number of important factors, such as your dental treatment plan, age, medical history and other variables. Our recommendation will also depend on your overall level of anxiety or fear.
Request a Free Sedation Dentistry Consultation.
If you are interested in improving your oral health but have anxiety or fear about it, we invite you to schedule a free sedation dentistry consultation. There’s absolutely no commitment on your part, and we’ll provide a free dental exam, discuss your situation and review your treatment options together. To get started, request your free consultation here or call (864) 877-9111 to speak with a member of our staff today.