Do you worry about visiting the dentist? You’ve got plenty of company. Research shows that as many as 75% of Americans have anxiety about dental visits, about 20% have moderate to high levels of worry. The reasons for dental anxiety are varied, but no matter what the cause, the results of anxiety can be serious, preventing many people from getting the care they need to stay healthy.
At Grace Dental Group, Woo Young Lee, DDS, and his team understand the genuine phenomenon of dental anxiety — and the severe oral health problems it can lead to. He and his team provide patient-centered, compassionate care to help you stay relaxed, so you can get the care and treatment you need. If you’re anxious about an upcoming appointment, here’s what you can do to help yourself relax.
#1: Discuss your concerns with Dr. Lee
Trying to hide your anxiety will only make it worse. Instead, be open about your concerns so we can help you work through them. Our team can also discuss the treatments they’re providing ahead of time, so you know what to expect.
#2: Bring along a distraction
Listening to an audiobook or music through your phone or other device is an excellent way to relax throughout your visit. You might also consider bringing a friend to talk to while you’re in the waiting room or a book of puzzles to keep you focused on something else.
#3: Focus on your breathing
Breathing rapidly or holding your breath are two of the most common responses to increased anxiety. Before your appointment, practice breathing deeply through your nose and try counting your breaths. Not only will deep breathing help your body’s natural relaxation responses kick in, but it also gives you something to focus on during your visit.
#4: Skip the sugar and caffeine
Treating yourself to a little snack before your appointment might sound like a good idea. But sugar and caffeine can both make you extra jittery, increasing your feelings of anxiety. Instead, save these treats for a post-visit reward.
#5: Consider medications to relax
Some patients with dental anxiety use a mild oral sedative before their visit to help them relax. Just be sure to have someone with you to drive you home afterward since these medicines can leave you groggy.
#6: Ask about “laughing gas” or sedation
Nitrous oxide is a gas you breathe in through your nose to help you relax. It’s also known as laughing gas because of the relaxed, euphoric feelings associated with its use. Sedation is another option that Dr. Lee can use to enable patients to nap through more complex procedures, like wisdom tooth extractions.
#7: Don’t skip appointments
This probably sounds counterintuitive if dental visits make you nervous. But by seeing Dr. Lee regularly — twice yearly for checkups and cleanings — he can catch problems in their very early stages and even prevent many issues from occurring in the first place. That means less time in the dental chair for you.
Don’t let fear keep you from the care you need
About 120 million American adults are missing at least one tooth, and millions more have gum disease that puts them at risk of tooth loss. Seeing Dr. Lee is critically important for helping you maintain optimal oral health and a beautiful smile. To schedule your dental visit at our San Francisco, California, practice, call the office or book an appointment online, and learn how we can help you put your dental anxiety to rest.