Tips for Overcoming Dental Anxiety

If you feel anxious about seeing the dentist, you are not alone. An estimated 50-80% of adults in the United States suffer from some degree of dental anxiety, according to a study by the Journal of Dental Hygiene. This anxiety causes more than 20% of these adults to avoid seeing the dentist regularly, which can be detrimental to their oral health. Luckily, it is possible to cope with dental anxiety.

Follow these five tips to help you overcome dental anxiety:

Tip #1 – Recognize The Fear

The first step in overcoming dental anxiety is recognizing that you suffer from it. Patients feel anxious about going to the dentist for several reasons, mainly fear of pain, loss of control, embarrassment about dental health, or a bad experience in the past. In many cases, it is a combination of some or all of these factors. Coming to terms with the reasoning behind your fear can help you take steps to overcome it.

Tip #2 – Be Honest With Your Dentist

If you feel nervous about your dental procedure, do not keep your fears bottled up. Let your dentist and their team know how you are feeling. They can’t take steps to make you feel more comfortable unless they know you are anxious. Since dental anxiety is so common, dentists have a lot of experience helping people just like you. Once they are aware of how you are feeling, they can explain everything they are doing to help ease your worries. You can even set up a signal with them, such as raising your hand, that will indicate when you need to take a break.

Tip #3 – Bring Along Moral Support>

Not going to your dental visit alone can reduce feelings of anxiety. Ask a friend or family member to accompany you to your dental appointment. Whether they stay in the lobby, wait in the car, or come to the room with you, knowing that someone you trust is nearby can help you feel safer and more comfortable. They can also speak up for you during times you can’t, helping you feel more in control of the situation. Just be sure to check current rules for bringing along a support person, as this varies based on the dentist you choose and your circumstances. 

Tip #4 – Try Out Relaxation Techniques

Getting yourself in the right mindset before your appointment is another way to combat anxious feelings about the dentist. Relaxation techniques like breathing exercises and simple meditations will help relax your muscles and slow your heartbeat. Watching a funny movie or video before your appointment can also help you calm down. During your procedure, distract yourself by listening to music, playing with a stress ball or fidget spinner, or focusing on the television in the room.

Tip #5 – Find a Dentist You Trust

Finding the right dentist can make all of the difference in alleviating your dental anxiety. If a dentist is right for you, they will make you feel comfortable and confident in the care you are receiving. A few things to look for in a trusted dental office are friendly staff, a relaxing atmosphere, and high-tech equipment and treatments. 

Trusted Dentist in Oro Valley

Smith Dentalworks serves patients in Oro Valley, as well as Tucson and other surrounding communities. When you trust us for your oral hygiene needs, our team of experienced dentists and hygienists will treat you with care throughout your entire procedure. For patients that are afraid of experiencing pain, we also offer pain-free dental treatments with laser technology. 

To schedule an appointment, contact us today.

The Different Types of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a medical condition that causes you to stop and start breathing repeatedly throughout the night. It is one of the most common sleep disorders and often goes undiagnosed. If left untreated, it can lead to daytime tiredness and loud snoring, or more serious issues like congestive heart failure and high blood pressure. There are three different types of sleep apnea with key differences: obstructive, central, and complex.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The most common subtype of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA causes your throat muscles to intermittently relax and block your airway. As a result, people with this condition can stop breathing anywhere between five times an hour to 100 or more while they sleep. 

OSA is divided into three categories, based on the number of times a patient stops breathing:

  • Mild – The patient experiences 5-14 breathing interruptions an hour.
  • Moderate – The patient experiences 15-30 breathing interruptions an hour.
  • Severe – The patient experiences 30 or more breathing interruptions an hour.

During these episodes, the muscles in the diaphragm and chest work harder than normal to open the airway back up. This negatively affects sleep patterns and the flow of oxygen to vital organs, leading to abnormal heart rhythms.


To treat this form of sleep apnea, you must fix the obstruction that blocks the airway during sleep. Sometimes, changing your sleep position is all that is required. Other people find that becoming more physically active, losing weight, and stopping smoking can reduce the negative symptoms. You can also improve this condition medically through a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, surgery, oral appliances, and certain medications. 

At Smith Dentalworks, we treat mild-to-moderate OSA with the Vivos System. This treatment option is an innovative and pain-free custom oral appliance that you wear while you sleep. Unlike alternative sleep apnea treatments that require lifetime use, the Vivos System corrects the deficiencies that lead to OSA and only requires you to wear it for a period of 12 to 24 months. 

Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea (CSA), a less common form of the condition, occurs when a person’s brain fails to signal the muscles in the body responsible for breathing. CSA is typically caused by a medical condition that affects the brain stem, including brain infections and strokes. It can also be idiopathic, meaning that there is no identifiable underlying disease. This type of sleep apnea is more difficult to diagnose and treat than OSA.


To treat central sleep apnea, you must first treat the existing condition that is causing it. For instance, treating heart problems or switching to a different medication or dosage can often alleviate your symptoms. A few other ways to treat it are through a CPAP, bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP), adaptive-servo ventilation (ASV), phrenic nerve stimulation, and certain medications.

Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome

It is also possible to have both obstructive and central sleep apnea simultaneously. This is known as complex sleep apnea syndrome, treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, or mixed sleep apnea. Patients with this condition may seem to have OSA at first, but find out they have CSA as well when their symptoms are not fully addressed by the use of a CPAP.


Treating complex sleep apnea usually involves a combination of treatments for both OSA and CSA, such as treating the underlying condition while also using a CPAP or other positive airway pressure devices.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment in Oro Valley

If you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, Smith Dentalworks is here to help you. Our sleep apnea treatment, the Vivos System, can correct the deficiencies that lead to OSA in as little as 12 months, allowing you to enjoy a healthy life without further intervention.

To get started on relieving your sleep apnea symptoms, contact Smith Dentalworks today.