Easing Dental Fear and Anxiety
“My favorite activity is going to the dentist,” said no one ever.
Many people experience dental fear and anxiety, but it can be overcome!
Empathetic care and clear communication will help with dental anxiety. Know that you’re not alone and that many people have been helped to overcome their dental anxiety and fear with straightforward tips and compassionate care.
Dental fear is experienced differently by different people. Some of the most common reasons are:
- Poor past experiences
- The feeling of being powerless
- The smells, sights, and/or sounds in a dental office
- Past history of abuse causing the close contact during treatment to be a problem
We hope this blog will arm any patient with information that might help.
Choose a dentist who caters to your needs
Communication makes a huge difference in overcoming dental anxiety!
Choose a dentist who will listen patiently to your concerns and fears.
Dr. Paul Silberman says,
“The key to coping with dental anxiety is to discuss your fears with your dentist. Once your dentist knows your fears, they can work with you to determine the best ways to make you feel less anxious and more comfortable.”
Oftentimes, dental fear is experienced because the patient does not feel in control.
Dr. Silberman uses what he refers to as the “Tell, Show and Do Approach.” He explains what he will be doing and how he will do it. He does part of the dental procedure and makes sure the patient is doing well. The process repeats, and he works with his patient through the entire visit to calm fears.
Additionally, using hand signals to request a pause may be very important for a patient. Be sure to communicate that you may want to use a hand signal to pause when possible during the procedure.
Delay or decreased utilization of dental services due to dental phobia
Many patients who experience dental phobia will cancel, avoid, and miss appointments.
Letting your dental phobia hold you back from going to the dentist or getting recommended treatments can lead to other negative outcomes like:
- Stained and discolored teeth
- Chipped teeth
- Cracked teeth
- Health problems, such as oral cancer
Going to the dentist, getting preventive care, and addressing issues are critical to your dental and overall health because dental problems do not heal without treatment. Time will not heal but only cause more serious and more costly problems.
A dental colleague once said,
“People often like to say dentistry is expensive. It’s not. But dental neglect is.”
Delaying treatment could mean the difference between a small filling and a more complicated dental treatment.
Does your dentist have modern technology (and comfortable dental chairs)?
Dental technology makes your treatments quicker, more comfortable, and it looks beautifully natural. Here are some examples:
- Digital x-rays: Digital x-rays are quick. There are strategies that many dental assistants, hygienists, and dentists know which can make patients more comfortable. In our office, a patient who gags will be asked to sit leaning forward, and it helps when an x-ray is taken.
- Intraoral cameras: Intraoral cameras inform patients. The pictures will help your dentist show you what they see in your mouth, so you better understand your diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
- CEREC: If a crown is necessary, a dentist can create a new crown in one appointment instead of two, minimizing chair time. CEREC crowns are strong, attractive, and natural looking.
Be sure you are in a judgment-free dental practice
Do not feel embarrassed about not seeing a dentist or dental hygienist for a long time. Are you embarrassed about how your teeth look? Do not be intimidated if you’ve neglected to get dental care.
You have the right to expect all members of the dental team to make you feel comfortable.
Any dentist who works well with fearful patients will communicate that what’s important is that you want your dental needs attended to now. Don’t settle for any guilt, judgments, or intimidating remarks from any member of the dental team.
Information and communication will help you approach the care you need
Don’t hesitate to ask questions about your options.
Do you feel rushed or welcome to talk about your concerns and treatment? Is there more than one treatment that can correct your dental problem?
“We’re thrilled you have taken an interest in your oral health and want to fully understand the options available to you!”
One of the scariest things about dentistry can be that a patient doesn’t know what’s happening during a procedure. Ask questions about the procedure.
Does your dentist communicate to you the consequences if you do not receive the recommended treatment? Is that communication expressed with compassion and a desire to help you understand?
Affordable dental care
Another cause for stress and avoidance regarding the dentist is the expense. Realizing that you need dental care is one thing, but concerns regarding payment for treatment can cause delays in getting care.
Before you choose a dentist, ask about payment options. This could include:
- Third-party financing such as CareCredit… This text opens a new tab to the CareCredit website…
- Dental insurance
- In-house membership plan
Some dental practices now have in-house membership plans. These plans have no waiting periods, annual maximums, denial of claims, or pre-approvals. Most are straightforward and give an affordable option for oral health.
At The Silberman Dental Group, we have an affordable plan that gives patients 15% off cosmetic and restorative dental procedures!
A safe office environment
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, dentists were already following strict infection control protocols, and these have only increased to ensure your health and safety.
If this is a concern of yours, ask the dentist what safety measures they have in place.
We suggest you ask for referrals and take the time to consult with one or more dentists. There are dentists who’ll offer a consultation at no charge. After the consultation, your dentist should be available to answer any questions you might have about any treatment which was discussed.
In our office, after your initial no-cost consultation, our dentists will call or give you a no-charge virtual consultation to follow up if that is something you want. They want to put your mind at ease and be sure you fully understand the treatment options.
Patients are often scared to ask questions, not to be a bother, but Dr. Silberman love questions; “I enjoy fostering an open dialogue with my patients because an informed patient is a happy patient.”
Additional tips that have helped some fearful patients
- Wear clothing you feel most relaxed and comfortable in. Wear layers in case you get hot or cold. Many offices are cool because their clinical team is wearing a gown, mask, gloves, face shield, and sometimes a head covering. It can be tough on the clinical team members, and they have to keep offices colder to compensate. In our practice, we place emphasis on comfort by offering a freshly cleaned blanket when the room is a bit cold for a patient. Many patients remark that efforts like this make them feel more relaxed and cared for.
- Be sure to bring whatever is necessary if you have music or a podcast that you find relaxing. Dr. Silberman says that he finds patients do better when he can talk to them while working. If they are listening to music, he asks them to keep the volume low enough so they can hear him. However, he certainly respects a patient’s need to have louder music for distraction if necessary.
- If another appointment is necessary, schedule it before you leave. You’ll be less likely to avoid the dentist if you have already committed to another appointment.
We hope you will keep these thoughts in mind after your dental appointment
Overcoming dental anxiety is a process. Have trust in yourself. We hope you’ll give yourself credit for taking the steps necessary to have great dental health.
How wonderful it is to have a healthy, glowing, and delightful smile.
Though it may take more than one time with your dentist, TRUST that you’ll begin to feel much more comfortable getting the dental care you need and want. Your dental team will be there for you and ready to get you in the BEST ORAL HEALTH OF YOUR LIFE- WITHOUT THE FEAR!
Need more help? Ask us!
Leave a comment below, and we’ll get back to you with our advice.
Or better yet:
If you live near Waldorf, schedule a consultation with Dr. Silberman and his team. Then we can spend one-on-one time getting to know you better.
Or contact us by:
The Silberman Dental Group is located in Waldorf, MD… This text opens a new tab to our office on Google… and serves patients from across the state, including Charlotte Hall, White Plains, La Plata, Brandywine, Accokeek, and Mechanicsville.