LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – As many healthcare services canceled routine care during the height of the pandemic shutdown, most are now back online. Providers like dentists encourage their patients to schedule routine care despite lingering anxious feelings.
Dr. Christine Jones from Coulee Family Dental shared her thoughts on these five tips from the Wisconsin Dental Association:
Ask your dental office about its COVID-19 protocols
If you’re in doubt about the infection-control procedures that your dental office has put in place, do not hesitate to call and ask. Dental staff welcome these questions and will be happy to share what they’re doing differently to keep you safe. Common changes you may hear include more detailed screening, added PPE, limiting waiting room usage and increased sanitization.
Ask for recommendations
As with all good relationships, a doctor-patient relationship should be built on trust. For some, fears such as being overtreated or overbilled for services is enough to keep patients away from dental offices. While these outcomes are highly unlikely, you may find comfort in a recommendation from a trusted family member or friend. You might also find peace of mind when selecting a dentist using the Find-a-Dentist® search engine, available at WDA.org, which locates ADA/WDA member dentists in your area. When you choose an ADA/WDA member dentist, you know they’ve agreed to practice under The ADA Code that covers five basic principles: respect for your wants and needs as a patient; to do no harm; to always do good; and to treat all people with fairness and truthfulness.
Share your fears
Openly discussing your fears with the dentist is a great way to get everyone on the same page. Knowing your concerns will help the dental team adapt to a treatment plan fit to your needs. Your safety and wellness is your dentist’s highest priority – meaning they are more than willing to work with you to address your phobias and answer any questions about your oral health and treatment. If helpful, you can ask your dentist to explain each step throughout your appointment or even establish a hand signal to use when you feel discomfort or need a break.
If the sound of a dental drill is bothersome or you just want to zone out, bring headphones to listen to your favorite music, podcast or audiobook during your next visit. Practicing relaxation techniques can also go a long way at an appointment. Deep-breathing and muscle-relaxing exercises can make a significant difference in relieving tension mentally and physically. Count your breaths, inhaling slowly and exhaling for same number of counts. Do this in sets of five while you’re in the waiting room or sitting in the dental chair.
Control what you can
While there are some factors that you can’t control during a trip to the dentist, there are plenty of choices you can make to lower stress levels during your appointment. Select a time for your visit that comfortably fits your schedule – don’t choose a time of day where you may feel hurried or under pressure. Adjust your diet leading up to the appointment, laying off caffeine and sugary foods that can easily heighten anxiety symptoms.