Submitted by Dr. Jeff Reynolds.
If you experience anxiety and stress while visiting your dentist, you are not alone. For many people, the idea of going to the dentist stirs up their anxiety; however, it is so important to combat those thoughts in order to keep your smile strong and healthy. These tips are here for you to help remain calm while your teeth receive care.
Talk to your dentist – Your dentist wants what is best for you; therefore, be open with them about your anxieties and stress before the appointment so that they can help to ease your mind. If you want to know what’s happening during the appointment, they can explain the procedure to you. If you would rather not know, your dentist can tell you when to close your eyes or distract yourself. Work on a signal with your dentist – for instance, if you raise your hand during your appointment, it could mean you need a break, or something hurts. Don’t be afraid to communicate what you need for a successful trip to the dentist’s chair.
Use tools to distract yourself – If the tools or sounds of the dental machines cause you anxiety, find ways to busy yourself. You can bring headphones to listen to your favorite music or podcast while you lounge in the dentist’s chair. Objects like stress balls or fidget spinners are also a great way to keep busy.
Practice mindfulness – To keep your mind off your dentist’s appointment, you can practice mindfulness both before and during. Focus on breathing while you’re in the waiting room or in the dentist’s chair with slow deep breaths. Relax all the muscles you can, one at a time with a body scan. Start from your feet all the way up to your neck and shoulders while you’re reclined for your appointment.
Bring a friend – Do not feel embarrassed or shy to ask for support! If you have a trusted friend or family member who makes you feel safe, see if they can help you in facing your fear of the dentist.
While these tips may not get rid of dental anxiety completely, they are a great place to start so any patient can conquer any dentist appointment. For more information on your oral health, visit Delta Dental of Washington’s blog.
Jeff Reynolds, DMD is a Delta Dental of Washington member dentist and serves as the Dental Care & Dental Director for Community Health Care.