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Dental anxiety Anxiety and fear of the dentist (odontophobia) are very real and remarkably common. Some researchers estimate that nearly 75 percent of adults in the US experience some degree of dental fear, ranging from mild to severe, and that about 5 to 10 percent of these adult’s experience fear so severe that they avoid dental treatment at all costs. Most commonly, dental fears and anxieties stem from previous traumatic and painful experiences with dentistry, but patients also experience anxiety as a result of hearing about the bad experiences of others and their own general fears about pain and loss of control.

Tragically, many people who fear the dentist find themselves in a vicious cycle, where their fear keeps them away from a dentist until something serious goes wrong and then the resulting dental emergency involves invasive and painful resolution that serves to reinforce the existing fears. Whatever the reason, if you find yourself in the same boat as 3 out of 4 American adults who are afraid to go to the dentist, the good news is that there are specific and concrete things you can do calm your anxieties. Break the cycle with these tips for tempering dental fear:

Find a Dentist You Trust

Trust and communication are extremely important to allaying fears. Visit the dentist’s office, tell them openly and honestly about your fears, and listen to them as they explain what they can do to help you. Dentists and other dental professionals are trained to treat anxious patients and they have several techniques at their disposal, including medication and general sedation dentistry, that can make your visit less stressful and frightening.

Gain Some Control

You’ll be amazed at the many different ways the dentist’s office can accommodate you. Ask to listen to your own music, change the angle of the chair to be more comfortable, or bring a friend to sit with you in the exam room. Discuss the treatment with your dentist beforehand so you know what to expect. Ask about sedatives and general sedation options.

Be Savvy about Your Body

Dental smile Avoid eating or drinking foods high in stimulants such as sugar or caffeine prior to an appointment and instead opt for proteins and lots of water. Set your appointment for a time when you can relax before and after. Practice steady, slow breathing during the appointment to keep you relaxed.

See the Dentist before an Emergency

Regular checkups and cleanings are painless and help you get to know the office and the staff. The more often you go to the dentist, the more comfortable you will be when you need help.

Consider Sedation

Many offices offer general sedation dentistry to their patients with severe anxieties. General sedation dentistry in Houston, TX, is done by administering an IV sedative prior to the procedure. The result is a rapid, safe, high level of sedation. You will still be awake, but you will not experience any discomfort or even remember the procedure.

If dental fear is preventing you from taking proper care of your teeth and gums, it’s time to break the cycle and find understanding general dentistry services in Houston, TX. Mouth health is critical to good overall health, so don’t wait any longer. Visit a dentist today to start the conversation about conquering your fears and begin a program of good oral health.