Dental anxiety is a common problem, which can lead to significant dental problems that can ultimately cause more pain and anxiety. Addressing your fears head-on is the best approach to salvaging your teeth and possibly reducing your fears.

Go More Frequently

People who experience dental anxiety may rarely go to the dentist, which only makes dental anxiety worse. When you avoid the dentist, you associate the dentist with pain or negative experiences, often because by the time you visit the dentist you may need invasive procedures or are already in pain. A major step to reducing your fear of the dentist is to establish a regular dental schedule and stick with it. This includes annual visits, cleanings, and any treatments your dentist recommends. Once you can get over the first hurdle, you might find your anxiety lessens with subsequent visits because you become more desensitized to the experience.

Consider Therapy

If you tried to make it over the first dental hurdle without success, consider going for cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a specific form of therapy that helps address negative thoughts and behaviors. Your therapist will want to explore the reasons for your dental anxiety. Some people have troubles with the sounds associated with the dentist, such as drilling, whereas others had a prior bad experience that creates the anxiety. Your therapist might suggest wearing earplugs or listening to music during your next appointment to minimize sounds if they are bothersome, or help you work through a past bad experience by developing positive thoughts and behaviors.

Try Sedation

Since dental visits and treatments are necessary to prevent problems that could result in loss of your teeth or worse, the only other option is sedation. Some people talk with their primary care doctor about a dose of medication to help them through a dental visit, whereas some dentists specialize in sedation and can provide you with the necessary medications. For a routine dental visit, you might only need a short-acting anti-anxiety medication. If you need fillings or other procedures, a dentist might try nitrous oxide, since it can help with both needle anxiety and anxiety during the procedure. When you have dental anxiety, do not be ashamed or hesitant to speak with your dentist ahead of time so they can determine what sedation dentistry methods are available and would best suit your situation.

Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce or eliminate dental anxiety, even as an adult. Instead of avoiding the issue, be vocal about your feelings and concerns so you can receive the right help to keep your teeth and gums healthy.