Talking to Your Dentist About Dental Anxiety
Dental anxiety can feel overwhelming. The very thought of visiting the dentist causes your anxiety to spike, and you are not sure how to handle it. Your dentist can help you deal with your anxiety, but first, you need to have a discussion. Talk to your dentist, so you can work through your anxiety and get the oral care you need.
Schedule a pre-appointment meeting
Many patients discuss their fears at appointments for cleanings or procedures. However, it is a good idea to schedule a consultation before the appointment. Use this time to talk about the degree of dental anxiety, along with specific concerns. Opening up about the anxiety helps patients alleviate some of the stress. It also allows dentists and patients to create plans before dental cleanings and procedures.
Ask the right questions
When patients meet with the dentist, it is critical to ask the right questions. Ask the dentist if listening to music or audiobooks is allowed during procedures. Find out if breaks are an option if the anxiety gets too intense. Also, ask if bringing a friend or family member along is allowed. Patients should also ask additional questions related to specific concerns.
Discuss sedation options
Many dentists offer sedation options for patients who have anxiety. Oral sedation and nitrous oxide are both commonly used. These light-sedation techniques allow patients to remain aware during the procedure but do a nice job of alleviating the anxiety. Many dentists have other options as well for those who have severe anxiety.
Determine a signal
Patients who have dental anxiety should work out a signal system with dentists and hygienists. The signal can be used at any time during the treatment. If the dentist or hygienist sees the signal, the treatment is stopped. Patients who discuss a signal during a pre-appointment meeting should go over it again prior to a procedure.
Ask about the procedure
A fear of the unknown often causes anxiety. When talking to the dentist, patients should ask for a step-by-step explanation of the procedure. Simply understanding what to expect goes a long way in alleviating fears. Dentists can also explain each step during the procedure to remind patients of what is happening.
Discuss situations where dental anxiety has occurred
Dentists are better equipped to help patients deal with anxiety when they understand how it has manifested in the past. Patients are encouraged to share the history of their anxiety with the dentist. Talk about the cause of anxiety in the past and how it was handled. This will provide the dentist with a clear picture of the specific issue.
Open up a dialogue with your dentist
Being your partner in oral care, your dentist wants to know about your dental anxiety. Schedule a pre-appointment meeting with your dentist. Ask questions and discuss your sedation options. You should also work out signals to use during procedures and request additional information about what to expect during your appointment. Finally, talk about your history of anxiety with your dentist.
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