At Team Popp Dental, we have encountered many patients who tell us that they have nerves when coming into our office. From children to adults, orthodontic patients to dental patients, we have seen it all and know all the tricks to help our patients feel more comfortable. It is totally okay to be a little nervous when approaching dental care. In fact, some nerves are normal!
There are other patients, though, that struggle with extreme dental anxiety and need added support from our team of professionals to help them get through it. We love and care for these patients as well, knowing how brave it is for them to face their fears and get the dental care that they need anyway.
If you are somewhere on the spectrum of dental anxiety, the tips below are for you! Follow along for our seven steps to help reduce your nerves at the dentist and get even more from your experience, with less fear and more support.
#1. Talk to Your Dentist
This might seem too simple to be included on a list, but you might be surprised! One of the biggest reasons that many of our patients fear the dentist is because they feel out of control and anxious with uncertainty. The best way to combat uncertainty is with knowledge, and that’s where your dentist comes in!
When you come to Team Popp Dental you will have the chance to sit down with Dr. Tom, Dr. Colton, Dr. Leah, or Dr. Bryson and we recommend asking them and your hygienist to walk you through everything that will happen at your appointment, one step at a time. Don’t be embarrassed to share your anxiety with them, and don’t hold back any questions, as asking and working through these challenges together is the best way to maneuver your fear and mitigate anxiety.
We know it can be hard to talk about your fears out loud, but that is precisely what our team of trained professionals is here for. Don’t hold back and see just how much better you feel.
#2. Schedule Appropriately
Even the most relaxed dentist-goers can end up stressed if they show up for their appointment on a packed and stressful day. If you know that certain days of the week, or certain months are extra challenging for you, we recommend bumping your appointment to a more relaxed time when you won’t be rushing and stressing about other things on top of your dentist appointment.
Our office staff are just a call away and are able to check through the schedule to rearrange your appointment! Just give us a call and we will help move your appointment to a time that will work best for you and your busy schedule. Just don’t put it off forever! Once you get it scheduled, keep your promise to yourself and show up! You won’t regret taking care of your teeth.
#3. Bring a Friend
This advice isn’t for everyone, but many patients do find it helpful to bring a friend or partner with them as emotional support during a dental visit. Don’t be embarrassed if a comforting hand to hold or a voice to listen to helps you. We say, whatever it takes to help get you in the door is the right move!
Meditation and breathing exercises are common practices used around the world to help with mental focus, clarity, and anxiety. If you have never tried deep breathing, now might be a great time to test it out when you are approaching your dentist visit! Studies have found that pausing and breathing deeply into your belly, aka the diaphragm, can calm the nervous system, lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduce levels of stress hormones in the blood, and more!
Definitely give this natural tool a try to reduce your stress and help your body relax before and after your dental visits if you are feeling nervous.
#5. Nourish Your Body
Nutrition is a simple tool that might be easy to skip on a high-anxiety day. But running only on coffee isn’t a great way to show up to your appointment. Instead, try to make sure you eat a balanced breakfast that will help nourish you and keep you full on the day of your appointment. This can balance your blood sugar and avoid those nervous energy peaks and crashes.
A balanced breakfast should include protein, fiber, and healthy fats! Think of a green smoothie with protein powder, or a filling omelet with veggies. That way you’ll arrive at your appointment in the best health possible, and can fuel you through the nerves.
#6. Consider Medication
Medication isn’t an option that we recommend for everyone, but depending on the person, it can be really helpful to deal with dental anxiety. Especially if your anxiety is keeping you away from the dentist, it is important to take the necessary interventions to get your teeth cared for.
Talk to your doctor about your nerves and see what they might prescribe to help you cope better leading up to your visit. Another option is to talk to your dentist about temporary medication options while in the office like nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or even sedation dentistry. This is when the patient is fully sedated throughout the treatment. Be sure to discuss these options with your dentist to see what they recommend and have available.
#7. Visit the Dentist Regularly
One of the very best ways to cope with dental anxiety is by visiting the dentist regularly. This isn’t just some form of exposure therapy (though that can sometimes help!), it just means that the healthier your teeth are, the less chance of needing more painful and invasive procedures in the future!
When you are able to maintain regular bi-annual appointments, your chances of gum disease, cavities, and other teeth issues are much less, meaning your visits will be pain-free and straightforward! And don’t forget your regular brushing and flossing, too!
Visit Our Supportive Team!
We hope you know that no matter how severe, we understand that dental anxiety is a very real and challenging condition. Know that you aren’t alone and that our people at Team Popp Dental are here to empower you! Give us a call to schedule an appointment soon, and be sure to mention that you would like help with your dental anxiety. We can’t wait to see you in our office to help you get the gentle, supportive dental care that you need!