The thought of visiting the dentist only to have a stranger put his or her hands in your mouth and perform sometimes painful procedures can induce anxiety for many, even when the procedure is just a simple dental cleaning. But it's absolutely essential to get those cleanings regularly at least once a year, preferably twice annually if you have risk factors for tooth decay and gum disease. If you experience such severe anxiety about dental visits that you'll avoid going altogether, try these tips for making your visit a little less stressful.
Ask How They Can Help
Your first step to creating a less stressful dental visit is to ask your dentist what they can do to help make your appointment a better experience for you. If you have a good dentist, they will be more than willing to offer you solutions to the problem. For example, many dentists offer complimentary nitrous oxide or laughing gas for procedures. However, some will charge extra. Find out if your dentist charges and if they allow nitrous during a dental cleaning. Some dentists can also prescribe anti-anxiety medication to help you get through your visit, but not all will offer this service, so you'll need to find out in advance. Additionally, you can ask if they provide a topical numbing cream for your gums. Sometimes the most uncomfortable part of a dental cleaning is accidentally having your gums jabbed while your hygienist is cleaning your teeth. If this causes you extreme discomfort, some dentists will offer to numb your gums. This might sound extreme, but it's a totally normal and acceptable request to make. It never hurts to ask, but sometimes it hurts not to.
Ask For An Explanation
For many, anxiety is induced by a fear of the unknown. If this sounds like you, ask your dentist or dental hygienist to walk you through each step of the cleaning and explain the procedure in detail. Also ask them to explain each tool they use, what it will feel like, and whether or not you will feel any pain or if there is even a possibility of pain during the process.
Bring Your Own Music
While many dentists offer to let you watch TV or listen to music while they clean your teeth, the options are usually limited. If listening to familiar, calming music will help you tune out the anxiety of the procedure, bring your own. Since large headphones can get in the way of the cleaning, make sure that if you bring your own music, you also bring earbuds and also ask your dental hygienist if this is okay first.Share