Dental anxiety is more common than you might think, with over one-third of people experiencing some level of dental anxiety (that’s more than one out of every three people!). Unfortunately, dental anxiety can be a significant barrier to many patients seeking orthodontic treatments.
Fear of pain, past negative experiences, and the perceived loss of control can make orthodontic appointments a challenge for some. However, acknowledging and addressing dental anxiety can help you take the necessary steps toward successful orthodontic outcomes and a healthy smile.
Understanding Dental and Orthodontic Anxiety
Dental anxiety can manifest as fear, apprehension, or stress related to dental – or orthodontic – procedures. It can be triggered by various factors, such as the fear of pain, past traumatic experiences, or simply being uncomfortable in a clinical setting.
For those suffering from dental anxiety, these concerns become even more pronounced when contemplating orthodontic treatments, which often involve a series of appointments and procedures.
Tips for Managing Dental Anxiety During Orthodontic Treatments
Recognizing that you may suffer from dental or orthodontic anxiety is itself the first step to overcoming your fears and participating in successful treatments for a healthy and beautiful smile. Giving a label to your feelings can help. And so can some of the following tips.
Open Communication with Your Orthodontist
One of the most effective ways to manage this type of anxiety is through open and honest communication with your orthodontist. If you feel like you might have dental anxiety, tell your orthodontist. Discuss your fears, concerns, and any past negative experiences with them.
It is not something to be embarrassed about. You should rest assured that any experienced orthodontic or dental professional has come across patients with treatment anxiety before. An open dialogue can help your orthodontist to accommodate your specific needs and alleviate some of your anxieties. We can discuss strategies and treatment options that best work for you.
In talking with your orthodontist, ask for details about your treatments and resources to follow up with. Many people feel that by understanding their treatment and taking an active role in their care and plan, they gain a sense of agency and control that can help ease anxiety.
Write down all of your questions and concerns beforehand so you don’t forget to bring them up. You can even keep a list on your phone so if a question pops up at any time you can jot it down right away. If you think it will be helpful, ask your provider what will happen at each visit so you will know exactly what to expect.
Breathing and Relaxation Techniques
Deep breathing and relaxation techniques can be powerful tools when it comes to managing anxiety. Practice some deep breathing exercises or meditation prior to and during your orthodontic appointments to calm your mind and help you stay relaxed throughout the procedure.
One practical tip is to bring headphones and listen to guided meditation, or alternatively, a familiar playlist, favorite podcase, or engaging audiobook.
Bringing a Support Person
Having someone you trust to accompany you to orthodontic appointments can provide emotional support and reassurance. Discuss with your orthodontic office in advance if you plan to bring a support person to ensure a smooth process.
Scheduling Check-Ups at Regular Time Intervals
Consistency can help you become more accustomed to the orthodontic process. Schedule your check-ups and adjustments at regular intervals as recommended by your orthodontist. It may be important to schedule each appointment well in advance or at least while you are at your orthodontist’s office. Regular check-ups are imperative to fast results, and you wouldn’t want to let procrastination or avoidance delay your treatment unnecessarily.
Choosing Aligners Over Braces
For those concerned about the thought of placing or adjusting traditional braces, clear aligners offer a more hands-off approach.
Treatment begins with a consultation to see whether you are a good candidate. Then, your orthodontist will take an impression of your teeth and mouth in order to have custom aligners fabricated (this is painless). You will place your aligners yourself and remove them to eat and brush. You will still need regular check-ups to confirm your progress, but will not require the manual adjustments associated with braces treatment.
It’s Time For the Smile You Deserve
Dental anxiety should not prevent you from seeking the results you want. Reach out to our office today to see how we can help you overcome your fears and achieve your ideal smile.