If just thinking about your next visit to the dentist makes you nervous and filled with dread, you’re not alone. Fear of the dentist is common. It’s estimated that between 9 and 20% of patients avoid going to the dentist because of their fears.
When you’re searching for a dentist, look for one with a relaxing office that puts your comfort first. Dental offices are aware that their patients often suffer from dental anxiety and try to create a soothing environment for their patients to help calm their nerves. But did you know that there are a few things you can do on your own to cope with your fear of the dentist? We’ve seen a tremendous decrease in dental anxiety when our patients use a few simple techniques to ease their fears.
Tips to Ease Your Dental Anxiety
Talk to Your Dentist and Dental Staff
Let your dentist know that you experience dental anxiety. Make them aware of what triggers it and any past experiences which brought on your fear. If you have had a painful dental procedure in the past, it may help to know that advances in dental procedures have been developed to reduce pain and discomfort. Your dentist can reassure you that they will take precautions to minimize pain. They will also know to talk you through procedures in a calming way to help ease your anxiety.
Try to schedule the first appointment of the day. This will eliminate the wait time and the experience of sitting in the waiting area while the anxiety builds.
Focus on Breathing
Deep breaths slow your heart rate and help you relax. They also give you something to focus on during the treatment. While deep breathing, think about things that make you happy. Removing yourself from the experience by going to your “happy place” is effective for many patients. They find that they are able to stay calm by blocking out the sounds and sensations they are experiencing and focusing on something pleasant.
Listen to Music
Distracting yourself with music or an audiobook allows you to transport yourself to another place during your visit and also helps to block out the sound of your dental treatment, which is a common trigger for patients who experience dental anxiety. Your dental office may provide headphones and music during your visit so be sure to ask.
Signal Your Dentist When Needed
Communicate with your dentist during the procedure if you are experiencing pain or excessive anxiety. A signal, such as raising your hand, lets your dentist know that you need to take a break or need to speak to them.
Request Medication Pre-Visit
If your dental anxiety is severe, speak with your dentist about anti-anxiety medication, such as Valium, which can be taken before your visit to help reduce your symptoms.
Related article: How Restorative Dentists are Reducing Patient Fear
At Ultimate Smile Design, we understand that dental anxiety affects our patients and we’ve created a soothing environment in which our patients can relax during their visit. We work with our patients to cope with their fears and do our best to give them a pain-free and stress-free experience. We encourage you to not delay seeking treatment if you do experience dental anxiety. Doing so may lead to advanced dental issues and a need for lengthier treatment.