Making and keeping that dental appointment is really hard for nervous patients.
Making a dental appointment if you suffer from dental anxiety and have not seen a dentist for a while is an achievement. Having a bit of time before having to step into the practice can either serve as recovery and preparation time or it can be more about managing yourself. If your anxiety is severe, this rather hard time is all about not panicking and stopping yourself from cancelling. Here are some ideas to make the time before your dental appointment somewhat easier:
Find a distraction until your dental appointment
Keeping yourself busy with other things will prevent you from worrying about your dental appointment. For some, it‘s about everyday tasks such as food shopping or cleaning the house; for others, it‘s more about listening to music or meeting friends. Whatever makes you think of things other than your upcoming visit will do the job. Sport is another great distraction. Not only is it really hard to worry about dental stuff when you’re sweating and trying to catch your breath, but sport is also good for your overall health and mood.
Write it all out before your dental appointment
If you can‘t stop thinking about your appointment, then at least think productively. What about making a list of things that you would like to ask your dentist? Or things that make you feel nervous? Things that might help? What goals you would like to achieve? Being clear about these things will help you and your dentist to find the best way to help you.
Give your dental practice a call
If there‘s anything worrying you or you have any questions about what your first appointment will look like, don‘t hesitate to contact your practice. Your dental team should encourage this and be happy to answer any questions. Talking to them beforehand will also help you to establish some trust and familiarity, which in turn will help to ease your anxiety.
Get support from other nervous patients
Depending on how nervous you are, talking about your fears can be tough. Fortunately there are online forums and Facebook groups for people who suffer dental anxiety or phobia. Finding people who feel the same will give you strength and motivation and help you cope with the hard moments. If you feel you need some extra help to cope, then seeking out a mental health provider might be a good idea. Everyone has fears and there is no shame in getting some extra support to move forward more easily.
The list above is by no means exhaustive, and I can only encourage you to dive in and explore the things that might make you feel better. You could need them later on during your journey, as well.
Whatever you do to feel better during the waiting time, remember to be kind to yourself. You‘ve come a long way already, so try to think of how much further you are now than you were before and how good it will feel once you have achieved your goals.
Search DefactoDentists.com for dentists near you who specialise in treating nervous patients.
Nikoleta Gehrmann is a psychology student with a particular interest in dental phobia. She has worked in a dental practice that specialises in treating nervous patients and spends a lot of time volunteering for Dental Fear Central (www.dentalfearcentral.org), a site providing information and peer support for people who suffer with severe dental anxiety.