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How to Overcome Dental Anxiety and Fear of the Dentist

April 26, 2023

If you're one of the many people who experience dental anxiety or fear of the dentist, you're not alone. In fact, it's estimated that as many as 20% of people avoid going to the dentist due to fear or anxiety. This can lead to serious oral health problems and even impact your overall health. The good news is that there are ways to overcome dental anxiety and make your dental appointments more comfortable and less stressful. We'll explore some of the most effective strategies for managing dental anxiety and fear, so you can get the care you need to maintain a healthy, happy smile. We have meticulously curated every aspect of our practice to make our patients feel comfortable and cared for in the chair.

  1. Understand the Source of Your Fear: The first step in overcoming dental anxiety is to understand where your fear is coming from. It could be a traumatic experience in the past, fear of pain, or even just the sounds and smells of a dental office. Once you understand the source of your fear, you can begin to address it more effectively. At Gainesville Dentistry Co., we have made every effort to make our place not feel like a dental office. From the coffee shop feel to the way it smells (see our many 5 star reviews mentioning that specifically), we aim to make you forget about any past experiences at other offices.
  2. Find a Supportive Dentist: Not all dentists are created equal when it comes to dealing with patients who have dental anxiety. Look for a dentist who is experienced in treating anxious patients and who takes the time to listen to your concerns. A good dentist will work with you to develop a treatment plan that takes your anxiety into account. Not only do we have many sedation options, but we have the clinical expertise and training to best deliver excellent dentistry with safe and effective sedation.
  3. Communicate with Your Dentist: Don't be afraid to talk to your dentist about your anxiety. Let them know what specifically triggers your fear and what they can do to help alleviate it. They may be able to adjust their approach or offer sedation options to help you feel more comfortable during your appointments. Dr. Feldman will take time to discuss the basis of your dental anxiety so that we can work past it as a team. His training in working with anxious patients really began in undergraduate studies at UF as he received his Bachelors of Science in Psychology.
  4. Practice Relaxation Techniques: There are many relaxation techniques you can use to help calm your nerves before and during your dental appointments. Deep breathing, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation are all effective ways to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Our patients know that if they raise their hand, we stop right away to make sure they are doing alright. In addition, we offer weighted blankets and neck pillows to make our patients as comfortable as possible.
  5. Bring a Distraction: Distracting yourself during your appointment can help take your mind off your anxiety. Bring headphones and listen to calming music, a podcast, or an audiobook. You could also bring a stress ball or fidget toy to keep your hands busy. No headphones or things to keep you busy? No problem! We offer wireless headphones that sync to your phone as well as stress balls and fidget toys to help mitigate anxiety during your procedures.
  6. Consider Sedation Options: If your anxiety is severe, your dentist may recommend sedation options to help you feel more comfortable. Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is a safe and effective sedative that can help you relax during your appointment. Oral sedatives are another option that may be recommended for more severe cases. At GDC, we offer nitrous oxide as well as conscious sedation. Dr. Feldman is DOCS trained to provide safe conscious sedation and is certified to provide nitrous oxide.
  7. Reward Yourself: Give yourself something to look forward to after your appointment, such as a favorite meal or activity. Rewarding yourself can help motivate you to attend your appointments and make them more positive experiences. This one we really can't help with, other than if you want our recommendations on where to go for delicious food in Gainesville! Don't forget to bring us back something. ;-)

In conclusion, dental anxiety is a common issue that many people face. But by understanding the source of your fear, finding a supportive dentist, communicating your concerns, practicing relaxation techniques, bringing a distraction, considering sedation options, and rewarding yourself, you can overcome your dental anxiety and take control of your oral health. Remember, Dr. Feldman and the GDC team are here to help you, so don't hesitate to speak up and let us know how we can make your appointments more comfortable.

To schedule an appointment with our top rated dentist and hygienists, visit app.nexhealth.com/appt/gainesville-dentistry-co or give us a call at (352) 887-6453 so that we can assist you with your oral health care. We look forward to meeting you!

About The Author

Dr. Greg Feldman has completed over 1600 hours of continuing education following his graduation from the University of Florida College of Dentistry. To put this into perspective, dentists are only required to take 30 hours of continuing education every two years. This means that Dr. Feldman has already taken 100 years of dental education in his relatively young career. He is an avid learner and a lifelong student of dentistry. As a Master of the Academy of General Dentistry, a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, and a Fellow of the Pierre Fauchard Academy, Dr. Feldman has achieved a level of recognition in the field of dentistry that few have ever reached. With this in mind, you can rest assured that anything he writes about on this blog is well researched and backed by scientific evidence and his extensive training.

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