- Listening to music during the procedure will help drown out the noises from the dental equipment used in the office. For many people, the sounds of the dental office are a trigger that cause their apprehension and nervousness. Bring along your music source and head phones. If you do not have your own portable music device, many offices are introducing their own entertainment options such as televisions mounted on the dental chair or ceiling.
- Bring a pair of sunglasses as the bright lights shining down at your mouth from the overhead light can cause you to feel more like you are in an interrogation room rather than in a dental office. Many dentists require their patients to wear protective glasses to prevent debris and water from entering the eyes. Protective glasses are at times uncomfortable and generally do not shade the eyes from bright lights. Wearing your own sunglasses will feel comfortable on your face and at the same time, block any uncomfortable light in your eyes.
- Ask questions before your treatment. Fear of the unknown leaves many people at the edge of their (dental) seat, waiting anxiously for the next tap or poke in their mouth. Ask your dentist to let you know what happens during your specific treatment and request that you know what going on in your mouth as it happens. Many dentists remain quiet as they are concentrating on the procedure they are performing. However, the dental assistant will likely be more than welcome to explain to you what to expect next as your teeth and gums are worked on.
When you address the root of your dental anxiety and find ways to help you manage your fears, obtaining routine and emergency dental care will be less burdensome and more beneficial to your overall health and wellness. If you consider your dental fears beyond normal help, ask the dentist for options for sedation including oral sedation, IV sedation and nitrous oxide (laughing gas).
Tips for Choosing the Right Dentist
With all the dentists out there, how can you choose one who will understand your fears and provide empathetic care? Following are six rules for finding the right dentist.
- Don’t wait until there is a problem to seek treatment. In an emergency situation, there’s no time to interview the dentist or to check out the practice. Start developing a relationship with a dentist before there’s an emergency.
- Talk with the person who answers the phone. Share your concerns about dental treatment. Although that person is not the dentist, he or she should be understanding and compassionate. The dentist sets the tone for the entire office.
- Ask for a consultation appointment. This appointment gives you an opportunity to gather information and talk about treatment. If a practice won’t make that kind of appointment, check it off the list. Likewise, if you don’t feel that the dentist is listening to you during the consultation appointment, go somewhere else. You should feel completely comfortable with the person who will be treating you.
- Book your appointment for a time of day when you will have no other stresses. Don’t book it when you know you have to be somewhere else shortly afterward. That will only add to your anxiety.
- Communicate with your dentist. Participating in decisions about your treatment will give you a feeling of control. Discuss various treatment options and ask the dentist to explain what is happening at every stage of the procedure. Anxiety often comes from not knowing what’s about to happen. When you know what the dentist is going to do, you won’t be taken by surprise.
- Start slowly. Build your confidence level one step at a time. For example, begin treatment by simply getting your mouth examined. Then come back later for a cleaning. You don’t have to do everything at once.