Does the mere idea of visiting the dentist have your stomach in knots? Maybe your heart starts beating faster, or perhaps you even suffer a full-blown panic attack when you have to go in for a procedure. These are all signs of dental anxiety, and while you may feel very alone when those feelings set in, you're far from the only one who experiences this issue. Here are a few strategies you can use to make going to the dentist more tolerable.
Ask your dentist about oral sedatives.
Taking an oral sedative like Valium prior to your appointment may allow you to relax and make it to the dentist in one piece. These sedatives are only available by prescription, so you'll have to ask your dentist if he or she can prescribe one for you. Make sure you closely adhere to your dentist's instructions when it comes to taking the medications prior to the appointment. If you take it too soon or too close to your appointment, you may not be as sedated as necessary for the procedure.
Note that when you take a sedative prior to your dentist appointment, you will need to have someone drive you to and from your appointment, as these medications can interfere with your judgment behind the wheel.
Talk to a therapist.
There are many therapists who specialize in helping patients deal with anxiety and phobias. Since dental anxiety is so common, you should be able to find a therapist in your area who has experience working with others who have the same problem. When you meet with a therapist, he or she will help you talk through what you're actually afraid of when it comes to visiting the dentist. Then, he or she will help you work through those feelings and come to the realization that visiting the dentist is not so bad after all. Your therapist may also teach you some breathing exercises and other measures you can take to keep yourself relaxed while in the dentist's chair.
Explain your feelings to the dentist.
You're not the first patient your dentist has seen who struggles with dental anxiety! If you let him or her know about your struggles, your dentist can move more slowly, explain things to you more fully, and make sure you're feeling comfortable and relaxed. They may let you select the music you prefer, sit in a more relaxing position, or schedule your appointment at a time you're feeling more relaxed. Keeping your anxiety a secret from your dentist will just make matters worse. There's nothing to be embarrassed about!
For more information and options, talk openly with dentists in your area, such as those at Milan Simanek DDS.