If you experience anxiety before you visit your dentist, you’re not alone—approximately 36% of the American population experience dental fear or anxiety. Around 12% have a severe dental phobia.
Whether this is your first dental exam or if you need to go in for a dental emergency, try these strategies to help you cope with dental anxiety to ensure you get the care you need.
1. Ask Questions About the Procedure
Tell the receptionist when you book your appointment that you have anxiety with dentist appointments, so they can let your dentist know. Your dentist can treat you more effectively if they know your worries.
They’ll place a high priority on your comfort, taking your concerns seriously, and building a good rapport during the appointment. This can increase your confidence in your dentist and improve your dental experience.
If you have ever had a bad experience with another dentist, share it with them and ask for suggestions on how to cope. You can ask your dentist to walk you through every step of your procedure to alleviate any fears of the unknown during your appointment. Let them explain what each dental tool does.
You should also feel free to request a break if you need to calm yourself down. You and your dentist can decide on a signal to indicate the time for a break during the examination.
2. Practice Relaxation Techniques
It is important to relax your muscles before your appointment by practicing deep breathing exercises. Take several deep breaths from your abdomen. Inhale slowly, and then exhale for an equal amount of time. You should repeat this five times while you’re waiting for your appointment or during a break in your dental treatment.
You can also perform a body scan. Start at the top and work your way down to your toes, relaxing one muscle group at a time. Concentrate first on releasing tension in your forehead, then in your cheeks, neck, and upper body. Your dentist can go over relaxation techniques you can use before and during your dental appointments.
3. Find Ways to Distract Yourself
There are several things you can do to distract your thoughts when you’re nervous about a dental appointment. If the sound of a drill sounds frightening, you can wear noise-canceling earplugs. Squeeze a stress ball in your hands to relieve stress and anxiety.
Consider bringing headphones with you to listen to your favorite audiobooks, music, or podcasts on your smartphone during your procedure. On-demand movies and TV programs are often available in dental offices on portable or ceiling-mounted screens in waiting areas and treatment rooms. Instead of focusing on your anxiety, you can watch television from your treatment chair.
Talk With Our Compassionate Dentist Today
It’s important to prepare yourself mentally for any procedure, including visiting the dentist. If your dentist is friendly and compassionate toward you, then you can expect a more pleasant experience at your appointment.Return to Blog