When It's More Than Fear: 3 Tips For Surviving Dental Procedures When You Have An Anxiety Disorder

For many people, going to the dentist is scary and fraught with anxiety. In fact, approximately 5 to 8 percent of people avoid going to the dentist because they are scared. While most people who avoid the dentist, about two-thirds, are scared because they've had a bad experience, some people are scared because they have an underlying anxiety disorder, such as a panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder. 

If you have an anxiety disorder, you face a particular set of challenges when you go to the dentist that other fearful people don't usually experience. For example, it's not uncommon for people with anxiety to have panic attacks at the dentist office or obsess about the effects of certain medications used during certain procedures. Some people with an anxiety disorder also have agoraphobia, which makes it difficult for them to be in public places. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make your visit easier to get through. 

Medicate before You Leave the House

If you take certain medications, such as benzodiazepines, to control your anxiety attacks, you might be able to take a dose to calm your nerves before you leave the house. However, it's important that you clear this with both your dentist and your doctor first. You should also confirm the dosage amount that you should take before your procedure to avoid any drug interactions. 

Take Control of The Discussion

If your anxiety is triggered by all things medical, it's important that you take control of the discussion with your dentist. If you're the kind of person who does better if you don't know what's going to happen, don't be afraid to tell your dentist you don't want the details. On the other hand, if you handle procedures better if you are aware of very specific details, don't be afraid to ask for more information. Keep asking questions until you are comfortable. 

Take a Friend with You

Simply having a close friend or family member close by can be very calming. Unfortunately, you're not usually allowed to have someone next to you while you're undergoing a procedure. If you think it will help, though, you should request it and make it clear to your dentist why it would be beneficial for you.

Never be afraid to speak up and make others aware of your anxiety disorder. If they don't know, they won't be able to treat you in such a way that minimizes your anxiety symptoms. If you have trouble speaking to others, have someone else lead the discussion for you. Do not sit and suffer in silence. 

To learn more, contact a dentist like Scott W. Murphy, D.M.D., P.A.