Dental Anxiety Is A Serious Issue – What Can You Do?

The longer you put off going to the dentist, the larger it looms in your mind. Small amounts of plaque become tartar and then lead to cavities, making an eventual appointment both more important and more anxiety-inducing.

On the other hand, it's hardly helpful to hear people say "just calm down and go." Dental anxiety is a real issue; a study in the Journal of the American Dental Association found that around 12% of adults had "high dental anxiety," and that this anxiety had a big impact on how likely they were to visit the dentist regularly.

Practiced Techniques For Lowering Anxiety

There are useful techniques for lowering anxiety in a variety of situations – including in the dentist's office. These techniques, however, must be practiced until you are comfortable enough with them to be able to use them in a stressful situation.

Controlled or patterned breathing is a particularly common technique. There are multiple methods of controlled breathing out there, but they all rely on awareness and control of your breath; this lowers heart rate and reduces anxiety. For example, you could try the simple yogic breathing technique called "sama vritti." Breathe in through the nose for a count of four, then breathe out through the nose for a count of four, and repeat, focusing on making your count as regular as possible.

Lowering Anxiety While In The Dental Chair

If you have a dental appointment and you don't have any practiced relaxation techniques – or you just want some additional options – then you need some more immediate relaxation. Calming music is a popular option; many dentists even have office mp3 players available now. Just loading some soothing music on your cellphone and bringing some earbuds to your appointment can make a big difference in how anxious you are in the chair.

Dentists can also use a variety of medications to help you manage your anxiety. People with dental anxiety often respond well to nitrous oxide (sometimes called laughing gas), which reduces pain in addition to lowering anxiety. Nitrous also has the advantage of being adjustable during your visit, unlike pills; if you are feeling too out-of-it, the nitrous can be turned down, and if you are still feeling anxious, it can be turned up.

Anxiety Therapy

Don't overlook the effectiveness of therapy at treating anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is regarded by therapists as highly effective for anxiety; it involves identifying the patterns in your thinking that lead to anxiety. Once these patterns are identified, you can work toward changing them. Many people find the skills that they learn in CBT are useful in many areas of life – and, at the end of it, you can finally have the healthy smile you deserve.

For more information, contact Havendale Dental Office PA or a similar location.