Although we’d like to think that everyone who comes into our Olathe family dentist office is as excited to be there as we are, we know that’s not always the case. Dental anxiety, or fear of the dentist, is a very real thing for both children and adults, and not addressing your fear of the dentist or dental anxiety can only make matters worse. The good news is, we have a few tips that can help you feel more comfortable in our office.

What is dental anxiety?

Dental anxiety is defined as “fear related to seeking or receiving dental care.” Although some patients don’t always look forward to coming to the dentist, they’re not particularly afraid. Dental anxiety, on the other hand, goes beyond not wanting to go to the dentist and poses an element of fear. It presents as a result of biochemical changes in the body, personal history or memory and the social situation. Dental anxiety or fear can look different for each patient. We sometimes find that children who are nervous about their appointment may express this in various ways such as crying or refusing to cooperate, but we understand that they may just be nervous. When your child comes into our Olathe family dentist office, we’ll treat them with compassion, because we know every experience they have makes a difference in how they feel not only at that appointment but also about going to the dentist in the future too. 

How can I get over my fear of going to the dentist?

Although overcoming your fear of going to the dentist, or helping your child manage their fear, is easier said than done, it is still possible to do. One of the best ways to help overcome your fear is by understanding where exactly your fear of the dentist stems from. Keep reading to find some of the most common fears related to dentist appointments and ways to get over them.

Most common reasons people are afraid of going to the dentist 

Fear of feeling pain 

This fear is usually most prevalent in those who have unfortunately had a bad experience in their past. For example, those who have felt pain at the dentist when they were a child may feel anxious even into adulthood as a result. Open communication helps many of our patients who experience this fear. Sometimes a simple signal, such as raising a hand, is enough to help us know they’d like to take a moment to pause which can help them to remain at ease in our Olathe family dental office.

Fear of not being in control 

Oftentimes, this fear is related to the fear of feeling pain. The fear of not being in control also largely affects children. Starting dental visits from a young age allows children to establish a relationship with their dentist which can help eliminate or minimize this sense of fear. If you or your child are worried about a lack of control during your dental visit, you should let your dentist know as they can likely help ease your mind by talking you through your appointment.

Fear of obstructed breathing 

The fear of an airway being restricted can be very prevalent for many patients. Normal parts of a dental appointment, such as a cotton roll being placed into a patient’s mouth, can cause people who experience this fear to feel nervous or uncertain. Knowing what is being placed in your mouth during your dental visit may help you stay calm. Bring this fear up to your dentist so they can help you have a better idea of what to expect during your appointments.

Too much time since your last visit 

The amount of time since a patient’s last visit is a high predictor of dental anxiety. Sometimes, children who go to the dentist infrequently assume that when they do go in for an appointment it will lead to more problems and cause discomfort which may increase their anxiety. Regular visits are the best way to help reduce this fear. Although, if you haven’t been to the dentist in a long time and now find yourself nervous to go to your appointment, know that at our Olathe family dentist office, we take the time to get to know each patient and do our best to always make them feel comfortable in our office. 

Fear of not knowing what will happen

Fear of the unknown can occur when an individual is not familiar with the experience of going to the dentist. This fear can also be amplified when the majority of experience children have with the dentist is through heightened stories or media. If they don’t have much or any of their own experience going to the dentist it can only make matters worse. The best way to avoid this is to bring your child to see your family dentist from an early age. 

Vicarious fear

Did you know that your fear of the dentist can transfer to your children? Children mimic the adults they look up to, so if their parents tell them stories about their negative experiences or explain things in a way that gives them the idea that their parents are nervous, they may become nervous too. If you fear going to the dentist it is best to not bring your child back in the exam room with you, and vice versa. We actually find that children who come back alone and talk with our dentists and staff one-on-one do better and are more relaxed. Plus, rest assured that as parents ourselves, we enjoy getting to spend time with our young patients and go the extra mile to ensure they have a pleasant experience in our office. 

More tips for helping your child not be afraid of the dentist

Let them know when they have an appointment coming up 

It’s often helpful to let children know they have an upcoming appointment. It gives them time to prepare and get more comfortable with the idea of going to their family dentist. Allowing them to ask questions and providing straightforward answers, emphasizing the importance of maintaining their oral health, can help children to be more comfortable going to their dental appointments.

Choose the right dentist for your family 

Choosing the right for your family is an extremely important decision. We recommend picking a dentist that understands children and how they express themselves in situations that are new to them. At Rhoades Family Dentistry, we know how to work with kids, and love doing it. We treat each child that comes into our office like we do our own, with kindness and patience. 

If you have any questions about your upcoming appointment at our Olathe family dental office, feel free to contact us or give us a call at 913-782-8900. We’d be happy to walk you through what you can expect at your next appointment.