Managing Fear of Dental Treatment

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Smiling Dental Patient In Chair At Southbridge Dentistry, we understand that many patients experience anxiety about visiting the dentist. After all, having someone look in your mouth while scraping and cleaning your teeth isn’t something you do every day. The anxiety can get bad enough for some people that they avoid visiting the dentist altogether. You can feel rest assured that we will do anything possible to make dental visits more comfortable for you. Here are just some of the things we recommend and that we can do for you as our patient:

Explain what we’re about to do: A large part of dental anxiety for some patients is the feeling of a loss of control. They’re uneasy because they don’t know what is going to happen next. Our dentists are happy to walk you through each step of the typical dental check-up as well as explain why they’re doing it.

Schedule appointments for midday if possible: Mornings and late afternoons tend to be the most popular time for appointments at any dental or medical clinic. If your schedule permits, consider making your appointment anytime from late morning to early afternoon when fewer people are in the office. This will provide a more relaxing atmosphere throughout the appointment.

Provide numbing cream upon request: If you would like us to rub numbing cream on your gums before starting your preventive care exam, just ask. You can also request this if you need to have any type of injection for dental treatments. The cream makes it so that you don’t feel discomfort as acutely as you might otherwise.

Inquire About Anti-Anxiety Options: If your anxiety is serious enough to keep you from the dentist, ask us about options such as prescribing an anti-anxiety medication or using nitrous oxide (laughing gas) during your appointment. Before taking it upon yourself to drink a glass of wine or other type of alcohol for relaxation, be sure to find out if doing so could interfere with the effectiveness of your treatment. Even if we’re unable to provide you with medication, we will work with you to reduce your anxiety as much as possible. If you do receive medication, someone should drive you to and from the appointment.

Let Us Know if You Need a Break: Obviously, it’s hard to communicate when you have dental instruments in your mouth. We encourage you to use a hand symbol to let us know if you’re feeling too anxious or uncomfortable to continue. Our staff is happy to stop for a few minutes to allow you to collect your bearings and refocus. We can also change our approach when we continue working on your mouth.
Reward Yourself After the Appointment: Make a deal with yourself that if you schedule and follow through with the appointment, you’re entitled to a reward. It could be a massage, a new shirt, going to a movie, or anything that’s enjoyable to you.

We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment and are here to help you overcome dental anxiety in any way we can. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.