How to Help Dental Anxiety

If you get nervous just thinking about going to the dentist, you are not alone. You may be scared that the dental treatment will hurt or you may no have been to the dentist in some time and are afraid of what will be found.

Whatever is your situation, your dentist should make sure that not only is your dental health taken care of but also your emotional health.

Like most anything else in life, the longer you prolong not going to the dentist, the more likely it is you will develop a dental problem. Remember, prevention is always the best treatment so seeing your dentist regularly will actually make your dental appointment experience much easier and less stressful.

Here are some strategies you can use at your next appointment to help ease your anxiety and strengthen your smile.

1. Communicate

It is important for you to share your feelings – this makes a world of difference. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, let your dentist know. If your dentist knows how you are feeling, they will be in a better position to help you through your dental treatment.

Do not be shy…remind your dentist at your appointments how you feel and do not be afraid to ask questions. By knowing what to expect will help with the fear of the unknown.

Another helpful idea is to agree with your dentist prior to treatment on a signal that you can use to indicate that you need a break. A common signal is raising your hand.

2. Distraction

Distracting your mind from the dental treatment may seem difficult but there are some easy ways to do so.

  • Wear headphones and listen to music or an audio book. This will help decrease how much you hear the dental drill and will distract your mind. You may even find yourself lost in the music or book you are listening to.
  • Occupy your hands by squeezing a stress ball or playing with a small handheld object.
  • Imagine your happy place and picture yourself at a relaxing beach.
>3. Be Mindful

Relaxation actually starts in the mind; knowing this, try breathing exercises to help relax tension in your body.

  • Count your breaths. Inhale slowly and then exhale for the same number of counts. Do this five times while you’re waiting for your appointment, or during breaks while you’re sitting in the dental chair.
  • Concentrate on relaxing your muscles, one body part at a time. This is called body scanning. Start with your head and work your way down to your toes. For example, you can focus on releasing tension starting in your forehead, then your cheeks, your neck and down the rest of your body.