If you’ve been putting off your dentist appointment because of nerves, you’re not alone. According to the American Dental Association, as many as 22% of American adults cite fear as their top reason for avoiding a trip to the dentist’s office. However, there are several steps you can take to calm anxieties before your next appointment. According to Dr. Maywell L. Inong, D.D.S., the most important factor is establishing trust in your dentist. She recommends asking family members and friends for referrals and shopping around to find the perfect fit. “Go in for an initial consultation to see if you are comfortable with the doctor and the staff because that can make a big difference,” Dr. Inong advises.
Once you’ve found a dentist that you feel comfortable with, it’s time to take a deep breath and schedule your appointment. For patients with anxiety, Dr. Inong recommends scheduling the appointment early in the morning to get it out of the way and to avoid overthinking and stressing during the hours leading up to your visit. Additionally, in some cases, medication can be prescribed to alleviate stress the night before, morning of, or even during the appointment. “Some people find it difficult to sleep the night before,” Dr. Inong explains. “So, [anxiety] medication can ensure a restful night’s sleep before dental work.” In other cases, anxiety medication or nitrous oxide (laughing gas) can be administered during the appointment; in severe circumstances, patients can be sedated before dental care. “Your dentist will work with you to determine the right combination needed to alleviate your dental anxiety,” says Dr. Inong.
For alleviating fear in younger patients, Dr. Inong recommends that parents begin to familiarize their kids with dentistry at an early age through books, TV, and other forms of media. Also, consider bringing your child along to your next scheduled cleaning. “Before their first appointment, it is a good idea to take them with you to your cleaning appointment so the child can see what a dental appointment entails,” Dr. Inong explains. “This will help familiarize the child with the dentist, staff, and office.”
Regardless of how your anxiety manifests, it is important to note that experiencing fear before a dental visit is completely normal. However, finding the right dentist and taking steps to overcome your worries can make a huge difference. “Given the right care, I have seen many patients who were once fearful of the dentist find that their anxiety is less, or even no longer an issue,” shares Dr. Inong.
Maywell L. Inong, D.D.S.
4568 Feather River Dr., Ste. E, Stockton
Children’s Choice Dental Care
Low Family Dental
3031 March Ln., Ste. 340, Stockton
Todd A. Franklin, D.D.S.
1208 W. Tokay St., Lodi