Do dental visits feel daunting? Ease your anxiety with these 8 tips.
Do dental visits leave you with sweaty palms and a racing heart? Or do you avoid going to the dentist altogether? If you answered yes to either, you’re not alone.
About 80% of Americans experience some anxiety when getting dental treatment, with upwards of 14% citing extreme anxiety that could be categorized as fear or a true phobia. Regardless of where your anxiety or fear falls on the spectrum, there are things you can do to improve your mindset, ease your tension, and make visiting the dentist seem not so intimidating.
If you struggle with dental anxiety, here are 8 ways you can make your next dental appointment a better experience.
1. Be open with your dental team about your worries.
Modern dentists, especially dentists at comfort dentistry practices like Ada Smile Place, recognize that dental anxiety and phobias are a legitimate fear. It’s a simple thing, but being open and honest with your dentist about how you feel anxious or even afraid is one of the best things you can do to ease your own fears.
Not only will open communication improve your relationship with and trust in your dentist, but your dentist will also be sure to offer specialized compassionate care. Don’t forget to mention your anxiety or fear to the rest of the dental team as well, such as the hygienist who is cleaning your teeth.
2. If your dental fear is severe or feels unmanageable, ask your dentist about oral conscious sedation.
If your dental anxiety is very severe or you have a true dental phobia, you should ask your dentist about oral sedation. Ada Smile Place offers oral conscious sedation as well as nitrous oxide.
Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is a very mild form of sedation and may be all you need to take the edge off your anxiety, especially during a procedure like root canal therapy or an extraction. Oral conscious sedation is more in-depth and ideal for most patients who experience phobia-level fear. Speak to your dentist about which option is best for you. Your medical history and current medications may affect the sedation options available to you.
3. Pop in your earbuds and listen to music or an audiobook if the sounds of a dental office trigger anxiety.
The sounds of drilling or just the general sounds that come with a working dental office is a common anxiety trigger for many people. A simple but effective way to block the noise is to listen to music, an audiobook, or even a funny episode of your favorite show. It’s best to wear small earbuds for this as headphones might slip back or get in your dentist’s way.
Be sure to give your dentist a heads up that you’ll be listening to music. This way your dentist will know to get your attention when they’re saying something important.
4. Practice breathing and other mindfulness techniques to help you relax and feel present in the moment.
There is plenty of research out there proving how deep breathing exercises can help release stress. You can practice breathing exercises during dental treatment more easily than you might think. It’s a good idea to let your dentist know you’ll be taking deep breaths during treatment so they don’t misconstrue it as you experiencing pain or discomfort.
You can also follow mindfulness techniques such as a guided meditation during your appointment. Just wear earbuds, close your eyes, and follow along with the audio. You can easily find these types of guided exercises for free on YouTube.
5. Play with a fidget toy or squeeze a stress ball to release physical stress.
When you feel mentally anxious, chances are high you’re experiencing physical symptoms as well, even if you don’t realize it. Releasing a little bit of this physical anxiety can actually help you relax. Next time you’re going to be in the dentist’s chair, take along a stress ball or a fidget toy to play with. These items will keep your hands busy, burn off some physical tension, and help you to relax a little more.
6. Schedule your dental appointments on days or at times that will be less stressful for you.
If being in a busy waiting room triggers your anxiety, be sure to schedule your appointments on days that are easiest for you and at times where the office isn’t as busy.
When booking your appointment, ask the receptionist what times they are least busy during the day. An early morning or late evening appointment is usually ideal in these cases. You might also consider traffic patterns in your city. Booking an appointment when the morning commuter rush is over can mean a less stressful drive to the dentist’s office.
7. Focus on the positive outcomes of dental treatment.
Rather than focusing on how you might feel nervous, worried, or afraid when you’re getting dental treatment, think about how grateful you are for being able to get modern dental treatment. For example, if you’re getting a cavity filled and you’re anxious, switch your thoughts to positivity by focusing on how happy you are that your tooth will no longer have decay and how the procedure is helping keep your smile beautiful.
8. Fill out new patient forms or update your existing information ahead of time.
Filling out patient forms and having to remember your dental history on the fly can add to your anxiety. By getting these basic forms taken care of in the comfort of your own home, you can arrive at the dental office knowing you’re all checked in. You can then take your time practicing breathing exercises, reading some positive affirmations on your phone, or doing some other relaxing techniques in the waiting room.
You can find Ada Smile Place New Patient Forms on our website.
Get the compassionate dental care you need at Ada Smile Place.
Ada Smile Place offers compassionate and caring comfort dentistry in Ada, OK. Comfort dentistry is a term used to describe dentist offices that approach dental care with a strong focus on easing anxiety and making treatment as stress-free as possible.
When you experience dental fear or anxiety, going to a comfort dentistry practice like Ada Smile Place can completely transform how you feel about going to the dentist. While it might not be possible to completely get rid of your dental fear, you can learn to manage your anxiety and make your dentist appointments feel less overwhelming—and finding a dental practice that you can trust plays an integral role in conquering your dental fear.
When you’re ready to make your appointment with Ada Smile Place, you can give us a call or click the Schedule Appointment button on our homepage to fill out an online form.