Approximately 40 million Americans avoid dental visits because of fear; however, routine exams protect your oral health. Without treatment, you could develop problems like tooth decay, gum, disease, and oral cancer. Oral health can also impact overall wellness, contributing to bigger issues such as diabetes complications, increased risk of stroke, Alzheimer’s, and pre-term births.

Minimize your fears by:

Choosing the right dentist
When you are looking for a provider, schedule consultation appointments with those on your list so that you can talk with the candidates and get a feel for their personalities. Having a dentist that you like and trust will go a long way toward making you feel better about visiting the office regularly.

Sharing your concerns
If you don’t let the dentist know how you feel, your doctor can’t help you. Be honest about your feelings and allow your dentist the chance to assuage some of your fears by answering questions and providing reassurance.

Finding helpful distractions
Many dental practices offer headphones, DVDs, and special glasses to help patients feel comfortable during their treatments. If your dentist doesn’t have these options, bring your iPod and listen to your own musical selections.

Considering sedation
Thanks to dental advances, dentists have a variety of options to keep patients relaxed during treatment. Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, creates feelings of warmth and only lasts as long as you breathe in the gas. Oral conscious sedation combines nitrous oxide and a dose of anti-anxiety medication to provide a state of total peacefulness. For patients with high levels of fear, those with a strong gag reflex, and anyone who requires multiple procedures at one time, IV sedation offers the deepest level of relaxation.