One of the most common reasons why people suffer from dental anxiety is a traumatic experience in their past.
Whether they were a child or an adult, a dentist visit that goes wrong can have lasting psychological effects for many patients. Fortunately, those that suffer from trauma have options.
Respect the Statistics
No matter what happened to you in a dentist’s office, the odds of something bad happening again are minuscule. The truth is that dentistry is incredibly safe. Something else to note is that your trauma might not have been exactly as you remember it. This is often the case when people have their experience as a child. They recall high levels of pain, but would not feel as bad if they had been an adult at the time.
Find Someone You Trust
An excellent way to calm your nerves is the find a dentist that you trust. Often, the first step in doing so is looking at reviews online. What they will do for you in give you confidence in a provider based on the fact that so many others have been satisfied in the past. Next, you can meet that dentist and the office staff. More than likely, you’ll have a connection with them and be okay with letting them treat you.
Controlled exposure is a technique that has been consistently proven to be effective. In a dental context, it involves you gradually exposing yourself to more and more dental anxiety. In the process, you become braver and able to fight your fear. That process might go something like this:
- Talk to the dentist on the phone about your issues and the possibility of an appointment.
- Drive to the dentist office, but don’t go in.
- Schedule an initial consultation with no treatment.
- Go to a full appointment.
Another way to calm yourself down is through breathing exercises. What sufferers of anxiety often don’t know is that controlling your breath is critical if you want to manage your emotions. When you get worked up, you start to over breath, which creates a feedback loop that heightens anxiety. You can stop this cycle by breathing slowly and deeply, rather than the quick and choppy inhalations that characterize anxious episodes.
Consider Sedation Dentistry
Perhaps the best method of overcoming a traumatic dental experience is using sedation dentistry. What this practice involves is medicating you to the point of partial loss of consciousness. Doing so will lessen your pain response and keep you calm throughout your treatment. Sometimes, lifestyle changes are not enough and medication is necessary for getting you the oral care you need. Sedatives can fill that role for you.
No matter how traumatic your past dental experience was, you cannot avoid this type of medical care your entire life. Instead, you should do whatever you can do get back into the dentist and get the treatment you need.