You’re not alone if you get nervous just thinking about going to the dentist. Perhaps you’re afraid the visit will hurt, or you haven’t been in a long time and are unsure what the dentist will discover.
Whatever your reason, the right dental team will take care of both your dental and emotional health. The longer you wait – or simply do not go – to the dentist, the more likely you are to develop dental problems that will make preparing for future dental visits more difficult.
In fact, seeing your dentist on a regular basis can make the entire process – from scheduling an appointment to completing it – much easier on many levels.
Use these techniques at your next appointment to reduce anxiety and strengthen your smile.
1. Raise your voice
Anyone who suffers from anxiety knows that talking about their feelings can make a big difference in their life. If you’re feeling tense or anxious, do yourself a favour and get your worries out of your head. Your dentist and dental team will be able to treat you better if they are aware of your needs.
- Inform your dentist of your concerns. Tell the receptionist you’re nervous about dental visits when you make your appointment. When you arrive, inform the dentist and dental staff of your anxiety.
- Share any negative experiences you’ve had in the past, and seek advice on coping strategies.
- Don’t be afraid to inquire. Knowing what is going to happen can help to alleviate any fears of the unknown.
- Decide on a signal. If you need to take a break during an exam, signal your dentist by raising your hand.
- Inform your dentist if you experience pain despite the use of a local anaesthetic. Some patients are self-conscious about their pain tolerance or do not want to disrupt a dentist during a procedure.
- Discuss pain with your dentist before it occurs so that your dentist will know how to communicate with you and make you more comfortable.
2. Divert your Attention
When you’re nervous, it may seem impossible to take your mind off the examination, but there are some things you can do to help distract your thoughts.
- Put on your headphones. If the sound of the drill bothers you, bring headphones and listen to music or an audiobook. Some dental practises even have televisions or DVD players.
- Squeeze a stress ball or play with a small handheld object, such as a fidget spinner, to keep your hands occupied.
- Consider your happy place and picture yourself relaxing on a beach or in a garden.
3. Apply Mindfulness Techniques.
- Relaxation begins with the mind. Deep breathing exercises can help you relax your muscles.
- Take a few deep breaths. Slowly inhale, then exhale for five counts. Do this five times while you’re waiting for your appointment or during breaks in the dental chair.
- Perform a body scan. Relax your muscles one at a time, one body part at a time. Begin at the top and work your way down to your toes. For example, you could concentrate on releasing tension in your forehead, then your cheeks, your neck, and the rest of your body.
We hope you have received all of the necessary information about dental anxiety.