Do you feel scared, nervous or stressed on the drive to the dentist? Does the idea of making an appointment cause you to tense up? At Surf City Dental, we have built an entire culture around helping patients relax and receive the quality care they deserve.

We’ll get into a few ways patients can tackle the fear, but first know, you are not alone. According to a recent cross-sectional study, dental fear and anxiety are deemed “major complications” for patients, as well as dental care providers. In the United States, as high as 20 percent of patients report dental-related anxiety. This often comes with annoying, but typically manageable symptoms.

“There’s usually two factors that trigger dental fear in patients,” said Dr. Matthew Parr, D.D.S. and owner of Surf City Dental. “The fear of the unknown… what we’ll find, and the fear of what it will cost.”

Other negative feelings often associated with dental fear or anxiety include:

  • An overwhelming sense that the dental work will be painful.
  • Embarrassment or shame about the condition of teeth and overall oral health.
  • Concern of feeling helpless during the visit.

Dr. Parr noted that while he understands how these thoughts can cause dread in patients, his team has developed an approach to get them past the worry and to a positive dental visit.

“It starts with that first conversation, usually on the phone,” he said. “We’re going to walk you through everything and figure out what causes the anxiety. Then, we’re going to create a treatment plan that’s focused on bringing calm and balance, so the patient has a great experience.”

For patients who suffer from dental fear, Surf City Dental has created some simple techniques to help them take the next step toward optimal oral health – without the anxiety!

Essential Steps to Overcoming Dental Anxiety

  1. Know yourself: Be aware of your stressors. This will help you communicate the cause of your fear to our oral healthcare team. For example, if you worry about a lack of control, let us know. One solution may be for our team to explain steps prior to proceeding.
  2. Distract yourself: Listen to some of your favorite tunes via ear buds during the visit to drown out sounds, as well as your own fearful thoughts. Or, plan to reward yourself post visit with something special. Concentrate on that reward before and during the exam – envision what that moment looks like.
  3. Practice Calming Techniques: About an hour before your visit, start with some deep breathing exercises. Find a quiet location where you can “clear your head.” These exercises can continue in the car and from a rocking chair in our waiting room!
  4. Stay Away from Caffeine! In the hours leading up to your visit, avoid consuming coffee or other caffeinated beverages and foods. This will keep energy levels down a bit, which is good for staying relaxed.

“Once a patient is in our care, they quickly realize there’s nothing to fear,” Dr. Parr said. “Whether it’s the at-home décor of our practice, the kindness of our team, or some of the calming treatment options we have in place – there’s plenty of ways we can help alleviate a visitor’s concern. We’ve got you covered.”