If merely thinking about climbing into the dentist’s chair makes you break out in a cold sweat, you’re not alone. Maybe it’s concerns about feeling too much pain or maybe you haven’t been in a while and you’re nervous about what the dentist will find. Learning how to manage dental anxiety takes practice, and many people experience it.
But, waiting to see your dentist will only make dental problems worse, making you spend more time and money and leaving you in more discomfort. Scheduling regular visits with your dentist can help make dental treatment much easier on many levels.
Dr. Mark Sowell and his team at Sensational Smiles in Plano, TX want to give you some tips to help you beat your fear of the dentist’s chair. These helpful hints can help ease your anxiety at your next appointment so you can get the care you need and keep your smile healthy and strong.
1. Speak up
Fears tend to lose power when you speak them aloud and knowing that others are aware of your feelings and are understanding about them can be very comforting. If you’re feeling anxious, let your dental team know your concerns so they can do their best to help put you at ease. Your dentist and their team will be better able to treat you if they know your concerns.
- Talk to your dentist about your anxiety. When you schedule with your dentist, let the receptionist know that dental care makes you nervous and remind the dental staff about your anxiety when you arrive for your appointment. It can be helpful to share with your dentist any bad experiences you may have had in the past, and ask for suggestions on how to cope.
- Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Knowing what is going to happen next during your treatment can help alleviate the fear of the unknown that feeds most dental anxiety.
- Agree on a signal with your dentist that will tell him or her you need to take a break during an exam, such as raising your hand.
- If you feel any pain even with a local anesthetic, tell your dentist immediately. Some patients may feel embarrassed about their pain tolerance or don’t want to interrupt a dentist during a procedure but no dentist wants to work on a patient that is in pain.
2. Distract yourself
Taking your mind off the exam might seem impossible when you’re anxious, but there are some things you can do that can help you distract yourself.
- Wear headphones. If the sound of the drill makes you nervous, listen to your favorite music or audiobook on headphones while you have your dental work.
- Keep your hands occupied by squeezing a stress ball or playing with a small handheld object, like a fidget spinner.
- Use your imagination and visualize yourself relaxing at the beach or another “happy place” of your choosing.
3. Use mindfulness techniques
Relaxation is a state of mind and goes a long way when trying to manage dental anxiety. Try deep breathing exercises to relax tension in your muscles and relieve anxiety.
- Count your breaths. Inhale slowly and then exhale for the same count at least five times while you’re waiting for your appointment, or during breaks from treatment while you’re still in the dentist’s chair.
- Do a body scan. Focus on relaxing your muscles, one body part at a time. Begin with your head and work your way down to your toes. For example, concentrate on releasing tension starting in your forehead, then your cheeks, your neck and down through the rest of your body.
Remember: Your dentist and their team are there to help you have good oral health and a beautiful smile. They don’t want you to hurt you or make you afraid. Make sure to talk over your fears with your dental team so they can help you begin to have positive experiences at the dentist’s office. You can manage dental anxiety!
If you’re in the Plano, TX area and are looking for dental care from a team of compassionate and skilled dental professionals, contact Sensational Smiles at (972) 382-6855 or schedule a complimentary consultation online with Dr. Sowell and his team today.