If you have an intense reaction to having to go to the dentist, you're not alone. So what can you do about it?
Dental phobias and anxiety are fairly common and can cause a person to cancel dental appointments and jeopardize their dental health. But missing dental appointments not only can prolong your dental discomfort, it can actually add to your anxiety because you may feel guilty for missing previous dental appointments.
These tips and tricks will help you calm your dental anxiety so you can get the care your smile needs.
1. Talk With Your Dentist
This may seem like exactly what you were trying to avoid, but having an open dialogue with your dentist can help you. Dentists understand that people have anxiety about sitting in the dental chair, because they've helped other people like you. Be open! You can even establish a signal for when you need to take a break during a procedure. If you don’t feel comfortable enough with your dentist to talk with them, then that may be a sign that it’s time to find a new dentist.
2. Identify Your Fears to Help Combat Them
There are a number of reasons why you may have this fear of the dentist, and it can be helpful to know what really bothers you about your visit. Is it the thought of a needle for numbing? Do you worry about what your dentist may think about the condition of your mouth?
Once you pinpoint the specific things that trigger your anxiety, you can work on ways to combat it – including (back to tip #1) talking to your dentist about what specifically scares you.
3. Chill Out with Your Jams
If your dental office doesn't offer headphones and soothing music (we provide Pandora Radio and complimentary headphones, and have televisions to zone out to), bring along your own music player. This is especially effective if one of your specific anxiety triggers is the sound of the dental office. Just remember you may need to listen for directions from the dentist or support staff, so keep the volume at a reasonable level.
4. Bring a Comfort Item
Kids bring along teddy bears or their parents that help them feel comfortable, and you can do the same. A stress ball, worry stone, or another item may be exactly what you need to relax. You can rub the stone or squeeze the ball to help you during your appointment.
5. Meditate into Tranquility
Meditation is another potential way to get over your dental anxiety and make life a little easier on yourself in the dental chair. There are some great meditation apps that you can check out to learn how to put yourself in a more relaxed state. The great thing about this is that it can help you with more than just your dental anxiety.
6. Go to Your Happy Place
Meditation may not be your thing, but you can always try to put yourself in your happy place. Just close your eyes, and imagine the one place in the world that makes you feel the most at rest. Imagine the park, the beach at sunset or another scene in your mind and pretend you are there. This visualization technique can seem overly simple, but sometime simplicity is just what you need.
7. Sedation Options
When visualization, squeezing a stress ball, or mediation just doesn't help your dental anxiety, it's time to consider sedation dentistry. Often with sedation dentistry, you’ll be relaxed enough that the dentist can provide you with the necessary treatments and they can accomplish more in one appointment to prevent having to prolong how long the full treatment plan will take. It can be easier to know you have one big appointment rather than several smaller appointments.