May is National Mental Health Month — a time to fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for policies that support people with mental illness and their families. Many people struggle with anxiety every day to the point where it can roll over into basic tasks such as going to the dentist.
Having dental anxiety can prevent you from getting the care you need to keep your smile healthy. Whether you’ve had a bad experience or have just always felt nervous about going to the dentist, it can be hard to work up the courage to schedule those annual checkups. Overcoming these fears can help ensure that you don’t miss out on any dental problems you might have.
Here are a few tips that may help you overcome your fear of the dentist:
- Find the right dentist. There are a lot of dentists who are specially trained to help with those who have a fear of the dentist. Reach out to dentists in your area and find the best option for you.
- Don’t go alone. For your first visit back to the dentist, bring a buddy! Whether that be a friend or family member, having someone there to offer support can help immensely.
- Practice relaxation techniques. Things like meditation and deep breathing exercises before a dental appointment can help calm your nerves and put your mind at ease. Take a deep breath in, hold for four seconds and then slowly let it out. Repeat!
- Distract yourself. Bring some earbuds or headphones to your appointment and listen to music while the dentist cleans your teeth. If there is a TV in the room, ask your dentist if you can put something on to watch.
- Ask questions. Always ask your dentist any questions you may have about what to expect at your appointment, the treatment they recommend, or about the dentist’s background or qualifications. Getting as much information as possible can help prepare you for what will happen and ease your nerves.
When in doubt, talk to your dentist! Communicate your fears and concerns, and they will be able to help you overcome your anxiety.