It’s very important to visit the dentist for regular cleanings. Professional cleanings help remove tartar and plaque from your teeth in order to prevent cavities, gingivitis, gum disease, and tooth decay. During cleanings, your dentist can also spot these problems early and treat them. For those who are afraid of going to the dentist however, these cleanings are often skipped due to anxiety.

Dental anxiety is a big problem in family dentistry, as it occurs in both children and adults. The oral health of those who fear seeing the dentist suffers. Because dental anxiety sufferers often miss cleanings and checkups, they are at higher risk for gum disease and tooth decay. And, because they may put off seeing the dentist even if there is an issue such as dental sensitivity or pain, the issue may get even worse and require even more dental work in the end.

If you are afraid or anxious about visiting the dentist, the best thing you can do is face that fear. It will save you from poor oral health, discomfort, or dramatic dental procedures down the road. Here are some ways to get over your fear of going to the dentist, and some ways in which your family dentistry practice can help.

1. Communicate Your Fear

It’s best to let your dental office know ahead of time about your anxiety or fear. This way your hygienist and dentist can do everything in their power to put you at ease, including creating a calming environment, and talking you through the procedure.

2. Ask about Sedation Dentistry

While sedation dentistry is usually only used during surgical procedures, some dentists offer it for patients who have particularly bad anxiety or a fear of seeing the dentist. Ask your dentist if they offer sedation dentistry, and if they think it may help you.

3. Try Relaxation Techniques

You may find that certain relaxation techniques such as positive visualization, deep breathing, or meditation may work for you in the dentist’s chair. Deep breathing is especially helpful as it will slow your heartbeat and soothe your nervous system.

4. Bring a Companion

It can be really helpful to bring along a friend or family member to sit with you during your dental appointment. They can offer extra support and assurance during your appointment.

5. Seek Psychological Help

If your fear of the dentist is so extreme that no conventional techniques work, you may want to seek the help of a psychologist or psychotherapist. They can help you determine the root cause of the fear, and help to treat it.

The most important thing to do if you are afraid of seeing the dentist is to let your dentist know! Fear should never stand in the way of your oral health. Don’t feel embarrassed: fear of the dentist is a common issue in family dentistry. Take steps today towards feeling comfortable in the dentist’s chair.