4 Strategies to Overcome Your Fear of the Dentist
As you sit down in the dental chair, it hits you: that tense, nervous, unsettling feeling. It continues to build as the hygienist clips the bib around your neck. The bright light. The buzzing, whooshing sounds. The poking in your mouth. It can be stressful, and for as many as 15% of patients, dental anxiety is a very real thing.
Dental visits do not have to be anxiety-inducing affairs. These four strategies will help you overcome your fear of the dentist, paving the way for a lifetime of good oral health.
- Talk about it: Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to tell your dental team about your discomfort. Dental anxiety is common, so your dentist likely has a range of tools and treatments to ease it. These can be as simple as offering aromatherapy or having a television in the exam room to having virtual reality headsets available. For moderate anxiety, your doctor may offer nitrous oxide (better known as laughing gas), which helps you feel calm and relaxed. If you have severe dental anxiety, dentists have sedation options that allow you to undergo an exam or treatment safely and comfortably. If your dental team understands your fear, they can share these methods with you to make your visit more comfortable.
- Signal to stop: When you’re sitting in the dental chair, the lack of control may make you feel uneasy. But when your mouth is open and being cleaned, it can be hard to vocalize when you need a break. Before starting the exam, talk to your hygienist about a signal—perhaps raising your hand—that means you need a break.
- Don’t worry about the condition of your teeth: For some people, dental anxiety is related to shame over the state of their oral health. If it’s been awhile since you’ve been to the dentist, don’t let the condition of your teeth keep you from getting proper oral health care. Dental teams have seen it all. Going to the dentist after a long break is a commendable act, not a shameful one.
- Focus on gratitude: When anxiety hits, think about what you’re grateful for in that moment: Your access to quality dental care, your teeth, for your commitment to your own health to attend a preventive dental visit. Studies show that people who reflect on what they’re thankful for experience less anxiety.
If seeing the dentist makes you feel panicked or even a bit uneasy, that makes you less likely to schedule your all-important preventive dental exams. Many people cite pain as a reason for their dental anxiety, but keeping twice-yearly dental appointments is the best way to prevent pain in your mouth and, in turn, prevent painful appointments.
Delta Dental of Iowa can help you find a dentist who provides quality care and options to ease your anxiety. Reach out to our Customer Service team at 800-544-0718, and we’ll help you find an in-network dentist who can protect your smile without the stress.
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Thirst-quenching Treat: Blackberry-mint Infused Water
As springtime in Iowa approaches, having a few go-to warm weather recipes will keep you cool and refreshed as temperatures climb. With just a few simple ingredients, this blackberry-mint infused water will make getting your eight daily glasses of water effortless and more delicious.
Blackberry-mint infused water
A handful of fresh blackberries
4 to 5 fresh mint leaves
- Using a long-handled wooden spoon, gently mash the blackberries in a pitcher, releasing their juices.
- Rub the mint leaves in your hands to release their oils and place them in the pitcher.
- Add water and refrigerate for at least two hours, or overnight for fuller flavor.
- Add more blackberries and mint for stronger flavor.
Fresh mint helps freshen breath, and blackberries have antibacterial properties that can kill bacteria in your mouth. But the real oral health hero in this recipe is water, which boasts several benefits for your teeth and mouth.
Eating and Drinking for Oral Health: Why Water?
Hydration is central to good oral health, so it’s hard to overstate the benefits of water to your teeth, mouth and gums.
A simple drink of water after a meal cleans your teeth and breath, and it can wash away food and acid that stick to your teeth. If food and acid remain on your teeth too long, they can activate the bacteria that lead to tooth decay.
Water helps prevent dry mouth, which raises your risk of several oral health conditions, including cavities and gum disease.
The fluoride found in tap water also prevents cavities by reinforcing your enamel, the hard, outer layer of your teeth.
Water boasts a wealth of health benefits, all without containing sugar, calories or acid. No drink hydrates your body as well as water, so raise a glass—simple from the tap or infused with blackberries and mint—to your good oral health.