Joy C. Arend, DMD

Overcoming Your Dental Anxiety

Ask most people to write down their favorite activities and it’s doubtful that you’d find “visiting the dentist” on anyone’s list. While people do things everyday they don’t necessarily enjoy, for millions of people their dislike of the dentist has manifested into a phobia that prevents them from receiving the oral health care they need to maintain strong teeth and healthy gums.

Approximately 40 to 50 million people a year neglect to visit the dentist because they suffer from severe dental anxiety, according to the American Dental Association. By never visiting the dentist, these individuals fail to have their teeth properly cleaned to removed built up plaque that can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. They also miss the opportunity to have Dr. Arend perform routine oral cancer screenings, which can play a pivotal role in catching the disease at an early, easily treatable stage.

The reasons why people develop dental anxiety can vary, but some of the more common issues include:

  • They have had a painful or poor experience with a dentist in the past, which might have included insensitive comments made by the dentist during their visit. The sights, sounds, and atmosphere at a dental office may bring back these memories.
  • They feel helpless or out of control when confined to the dentist’s chair. A feeling they cannot speak or communicate easily may contribute to this feeling.
  • They feel embarrassed about the condition of their teeth, and think the dentist will ridicule or scold them during the examination.
  • They believe what they hear about dentists, and buy in to the misconception that every trip to the dentist results in a painful, unenjoyable experience.
  • They suffer from a fear of the unknown, which includes the procedures used by dentists.

At East Portland Dentistry, we strive to make every patient feel relaxed and comfortable during each visit. Dr. Arend understand the concerns some of their patients have about visiting the dentist, and they’re willing to address these concerns in advance of any dental procedure.

For patients who suffer from dental anxiety, we suggest trying these tips to help you feel more comfortable and relaxed during your next visit.

  • Bring headphones and a music player to your next appointment so you can listen to some relaxing music during the visit. Studies have shown that listening to soothing music during periods of high stress can help a person relax.
  • Discuss your fears with Dr. Arend or any member of their professional staff prior to undergoing any dental procedure. If you feel nervous, try to explain why and our staff will attempt to address and alleviate your concerns.
  • Ask what will happen during a procedure. If you understand the steps required to place a filling, for example, you may feel less anxiety about the procedure. Ask if the doctors would mind telling you about each step as they move along through the procedure.
  • Discuss in advance the use of hand signals that communicate pain, discomfort, or that you need to take a break.
  • Try utilizing relaxation techniques that focus on maintaining your breathing. Tensing up and holding your breath during a procedure only helps to heighten your anxiety. By keeping your breathing steady, you can better enable yourself to stay relaxed.
  • Schedule your appointment during a part of the day when you’re not rushed or pressed for time. Early mornings or late afternoons may provide you with the time needed to undergo any procedure without experiencing a time crunch.

We are confident that you’ll find our office at East Portland Dentistry relaxing and our staff friendly and accommodating. When it comes to maintaining your oral health, brushing and flossing daily is only part of the battle. Regular visits to the dentist’s office remain an integral part of enjoying a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. So don’t let dental anxiety ruin your smile and schedule your next appointment today!

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