Like the fear of heights, fear of the dentist – sometimes call dentophobia or odontophobia – is a common anxiety. However, it’s one that can have a serious impact on your health if it causes you to avoid going to the dentist. Our team of orthodontic specialists sometimes see similar fear in our patients and it can happen at any age. Whether it be for the dentist or the orthodontist, below are some helpful tips that can help reduce your dental anxiety.
Talk with your oral specialist
Two major causes of dental anxiety are the fear of the unknown and a reaction to a bad dental experience in the past. Both of these can be handled by talking with your oral specialist. You can set up an appointment just to talk, where you can discuss your dental fears and learn what the office can do to make you feel more at ease in the chair. This can especially be important if it’s been a few years or if you’re changing offices. Remember: a caring dental professional will work with you to ensure your comfort, not just tell you, “there’s nothing to worry about.”
Schedule early in the day
We recommend trying to schedule your orthodontist appointment earlier in the day in order to reduce your anxiety. This way, there is less time for you to worry about your appointment. Also, since it’s not as popular of a time to schedule an appointment, there will be less people and less office activity that may overwhelm you.
Have distractions on hand
One useful distraction is plugging in your earbuds and listening to your favorite music or podcast. These familiar tunes will help you relax and can dampen the sounds of the dental equipment. Just be sure to talk with your dentist or orthodontist beforehand so they know how to get your attention if they need to speak with you during your appointment.
Bring a buddy
It can be tough to go it alone. If it’s alright with your dental office, bring a friend along to your appointment. If you’re a parent reading this hoping to help your child with their dental fear, you can help by modeling a positive attitude towards the doctors and their office. You can also actively encourage your child to engage with their specialist, as we described in our first tip.
It’s okay to need breaks during your appointment! We encourage our patients to let us know when they need a moment to calm their nerves or deal with any discomfort they may be feeling. We do not expect you to grin and bear it, and want to communicate with your orthodontist when you need a break.
Schedule your next appointment before you leave
To avoid putting off further dental appointments, schedule your next appointment before leaving. Another great source of dental anxiety can be the worry that your teeth are in poor condition which may cause you more discomfort in the chair. This unfortunate feedback loop is only stopped by getting in to see your oral specialist. It’s especially important to make your regular appointments with your orthodontist. Your orthodontic treatment needs monitoring to make sure no oral problems are worsened or created.
We know our orthodontic office can be an intimidating place for some. However, our oral specialists want to help you feel comfortable with and trust your team. We highly encourage making an appointment to talk with us about your worries and develop a plan to help you achieve your ideal smile.
I feel very fortunate to have found a profession as rewarding as the field of Orthodontics! For over 20 years, I have enjoyed creating custom, beautiful smiles for our family of patients all over the Northern Virginia area. You can even find some of our loyal patients across the country and abroad!