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Why does spreading out my appointments help anxiety?

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Geoffhazel

Junior member
Joined
Nov 4, 2020
Messages
2
Location
Seattle WA
I usually go to the dds quarterly for cleaning, with an occasional follow up for a filling. I'm not thrilled with the cleanings, but I go because I skipped for a year when I had no insurance and wound up losing a tooth to decay.

Anyway, lately I needed a series of appts for a cleaning, then a crown (2 visits) and then -- more. Fine, I'll do it.

The crown initial appt. was just a week out from the cleaning, and I wasn't feeling great about it. Anxiety. Then they called and asked if I could delay a week and I was very happy to do so. A week later, I was fine with it.

2 weeks later, the new crown is ready, and we do it. But while we are taking xrays, dds says "oh, you have cavity on upper that I didn't see before. We should do that soon." And I thought "OK let's just get it over with, schedule next week."

And THAT is where I have problems, the appt is too close to the last one, just a week away. Day of appt, yesterday, I was not feeling great. Anxiety. I went through with it anyway, and it turned out fine. But I got to thinking,wondering: Why does waiting 2 weeks between appts reduce my anxiety so much? It seems like there is some chemical or something in my brain that gets ramped up before an appt and it takes abt two weeks to drop to a level where I'm ready for another visit.
 
Enarete

Enarete

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 18, 2017
Messages
2,942
Hi there,

this is an amazing question!

First of all well done on finding out what works for you because everyone is different and the magic is in learning yourself and figuring out what makes your anxiety worse and what makes it better - and then of course implementing the things that help. So in your case it seems that if you wait two weeks, your anxiety before the appointment is less than if the appointment is in one week.

Now obviously I can only guess because anxiety and brain and chemicals are complex things, but generally when we are anxious, it really messes up with the biochemistry in the body - we are in a fight-or-flight mode, not being able to relax, having all these anxious thoughts, sensitive to everything that reminds us of what we fear, be it in our mind or in the real world and we feel off. And of course there are more stress hormones floating in your body and it can take a while (days, for some people even weeks) to get back to normal.
So I was wondering whether it could be that the information "an appointment in one week" feels for you like you can't even relax because it's in a week already while "it's in two weeks" allows you to let it go for a while and calm down?

By the way, some people get really calmed down by an appointment that went well and if they can get in asap after that they feel less anxious.. and having to wait longer rather makes them more stressed. So this really works individually. :)

I was wondering whether you plan on keeping your appointments two weeks apart now that you understood your pattern?
 
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Geoffhazel

Junior member
Joined
Nov 4, 2020
Messages
2
Location
Seattle WA
I keep track of appts coming up and will be thinking of them a day or two ahead with some small anxiety "Oh, dds appt in two days, ugh." Now, if it's been a while (over two weeks) then the anxiety will be "normal" as in"I'm not thrilled but I know I need to go, and I'll go." and that's about it. but if it's been less than 2 weeks, I find I am dreading the appt more, I think about it with dread more and really don't want to go. Yesterday, I told the dds as I sat down that I was feeling more anxious than usual and was even thinking (but not very seriously) about just getting up and saying "I'll be back in a week" but I didn't b/c I didn't want to be irresponsible and leave a hole in their schedule. And in my head, I knew it wouldn't be bad, just a filling, even less painful than cleaning. So I went through with it. And it wasn't bad at all.

Will I change how I do things? No. Knowing what I have been through lately, I would keep the 2 week rule going forward if at all possible. There isn't much that would need to be done any sooner than 2 weeks between appts.

Meanwhile, I am going to really keep up with dental care, brushing more and watching what I eat. I've tried to be "good" lately brushing and flossing every day, but apparently it has not been enough, as I've had 4 cavities to deal with in the past month.
 
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Tori999

Junior member
Joined
Dec 15, 2020
Messages
6
Location
PA
I keep track of appts coming up and will be thinking of them a day or two ahead with some small anxiety "Oh, dds appt in two days, ugh." Now, if it's been a while (over two weeks) then the anxiety will be "normal" as in"I'm not thrilled but I know I need to go, and I'll go." and that's about it. but if it's been less than 2 weeks, I find I am dreading the appt more, I think about it with dread more and really don't want to go. Yesterday, I told the dds as I sat down that I was feeling more anxious than usual and was even thinking (but not very seriously) about just getting up and saying "I'll be back in a week" but I didn't b/c I didn't want to be irresponsible and leave a hole in their schedule. And in my head, I knew it wouldn't be bad, just a filling, even less painful than cleaning. So I went through with it. And it wasn't bad at all.

Will I change how I do things? No. Knowing what I have been through lately, I would keep the 2 week rule going forward if at all possible. There isn't much that would need to be done any sooner than 2 weeks between appts.

Meanwhile, I am going to really keep up with dental care, brushing more and watching what I eat. I've tried to be "good" lately brushing and flossing every day, but apparently it has not been enough, as I've had 4 cavities to deal with in the past month.
I’m so glad you wrote this post. I had a tooth extracted (my first and hopefully my last) two days ago and I’m supposed to come back next Mon. for checkup and suture removal and I am terribly anxious and panicked. Trying so hard to relax, but I’m not looking forward to seeing dentist so soon after recent appt. Didn’t go well for me and triggered new fear/anx. of dentists. I have to go because I’ll just worry about suture if not removed. Argh!!!
 
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