For many Americans, dental anxiety is a very real thing that leads to avoidance of twice yearly cleanings and required dental work. If you're one such individual and are gearing up to make a dental visit for the first time in years, consider the three tips below when it comes to finding a dentist to work with and getting through your initial appointment.
Get a Referral From Friends and Family
When it comes to finding a dental professional you can trust, it's always a good idea to start off by asking your friends and family members where they go for their twice yearly cleanings.
When asking for a referral, be specific in what kind of dentist you're looking for. Some patients like dentists who are quick about their work, but some with anxiety may want to have a dentist who will talk them through each step and work at their own pace. Whatever you're looking for, be honest.
Have you received a few referrals and are looking to do a bit more research? Use online search engines to find patient reviews of each dentist, and check out each dental office's website to get a feel for the services they offer and the patients they typically work with. You may be surprised to find that a number of dentists work specifically with those with dental anxiety and will advertise this on their websites or social media accounts.
Find a Distraction and Bring it With You
For many who suffer from dental anxiety, a distraction can be just what they need to make it through a dental appointment.
For some, a distraction which involves using your hands, such as playing with silly putty or squeezing a stress ball, can be a helpful tool. For others, music may be the way to go. Whatever distraction you choose, be sure that it's one that calms you and one that your dentist can work around. If you're worried that a distraction may be too difficult to accommodate, don't be afraid to call up the dental office and ask!
Consider Sedation Dentistry
If your anxiety is high enough where you cannot fathom sitting through a basic cleaning, you may want to speak with your dentist about sedation methods.
While sedation dentistry is typically used for more invasive procedures, such as fillings and root canals, there are many dentists who work with patients who have dental anxiety. Such dentists understand that their patients' comfort is important, and they may offer sedatives for regular cleanings.
If you have been avoiding the dentist for years, you need not be ashamed. To find a dentist who you feel comfortable with, be sure to get referrals from people you trust and do a bit of research. You'd be surprised to learn that many dentists understand your fears and are willing to work with you to get you the dental care you need.