It’s not uncommon for people to experience some anxiety before going to the dentist office. However, some people are so anxious about visiting the dentist that they consider canceling their appointment—or they refuse to make an appointment in the first place. The symptoms of dental anxiety can be very troubling: heart palpitations, panic attacks, low blood pressure, and even fainting! However, whatever discomfort you might be avoiding by not seeing a dentist for regular cleanings will likely be minor compared to the dental complications that could arise after years of dodging the dentist.
Since healthy teeth are closely connected with overall health, it’s crucial that you learn to cope with dental anxiety. Here are 7 tips to help reduce the symptoms of dental anxiety, and make your next visit to the dentist office as comfortable as possible.
1. Talk to your dentist about your concerns
Simply letting your dentist know that you are anxious—and why—will give them the chance to thoroughly explain each step, so you know exactly what you’re in for. You’ll have the chance to ask questions and gain a better understanding of the process or procedure…which will hopefully alleviate some of your anxiety!
2. Practice breathing deeply
Deep breathing is proven to relax the mind and promote calmness. Try closing your eyes, taking a long, slow inhale through your nose, holding it for 2-3 seconds, and then taking a long, slow exhale through your mouth. Repeat this for seven breaths.
3. Meditate while in the dental chair
Meditation is a simple and proven way to reduce stress and anxiety, with mounds of science supporting its efficacy.
From the dental chair, close your eyes or fix your gaze on an object. Draw your mind’s attention to the sensations in your body, scanning your body from head to toe. Allow yourself to relax and keep your focus on your breath.
4. Go to your happy place
Is your happy place the beach? A fond memory from your childhood? Whatever—or wherever—brings you joy, imagine you are there. Visualize every nuance of that location or memory. Your dentist appointment will be over before you know it.
5. Distract yourself
Talk to your dentist about listening to music, or maybe streaming a TV show or movie to your smartphone during your appointment
6. Bring a buddy
Your friend may or may not be able to join you in the exam room, but even just knowing they are there at the dentist office to support you can make all the difference in reducing anxiety levels and feeling comfortable in the dental chair.
7. Ask about sedation dentistry
For severe cases of dental anxiety, your dentist may be able to offer an anti-anxiety medication to make it possible for you to visit the dentist. If your dentist does not offer this, speak with your primary care provider. Part of being healthy means visiting your dentist regularly, so if anxiety is preventing you from doing so, we urge you to work with your healthcare providers to find a solution.
Request an Appointment at Temple Family Dentistry
At Temple Family Dentistry, we are sensitive to the needs of those who experience dental anxiety—you deserve to have healthy teeth! We are happy to speak with you before your appointment to help understand and alleviate your fears. Our hygienists and dentists are highly experienced and go above and beyond to ensure the safety and comfort of every patient we see. Complete the brief form below to contact us about scheduling your next dental appointment (or even just to ask a few questions and alleviate some of your anxieties).