Dentists play an important role in keeping your dental hygiene in a good condition, as well as offering cosmetic dental treatments to help you smile with confidence. Yet many people fear a trip to the dentist, leading them to avoid a visit unless absolutely necessary.
If you start sweating at the thought of visiting your local dentist, then you’re not alone. According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information dental anxiety affects approximately 36% of the population, with roughly 12% suffering from “extreme dental fear”.
However, there are various coping mechanisms to calm these concerns and manage dental anxiety – let’s explore a few of them!
1. Speak to Your Dentist
One of the best ways to reduce dental anxiety is by talking with the dentist about your fears beforehand, asking any dentistry questions you may have. If you’re not comfortable doing that, then ask for their advice on how to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally.
2. Take Deep Breaths
Deep breaths help you relax and calm down. Every time you take a deep breath, your brain receives the message to calm down and instructs the body to relax.
3. Bring a Friend
Bringing a friend along to your appointments can help ease anxiety. A friendly and familiar face can provide support and company, and even distract you from any discomfort you may feel.
4. Anxiety-Relieving Medication
If you experience moderate anxiety, then you may consider a short-acting anti-anxiety medication to calm your nerves before an appointment. In some instances, a dentist may recommend a prescription drug to help you relax, talk to your dentist beforehand about your options.
5. General Anesthesia
During more invasive procedures, such as root canal therapy, general anesthesia may be used.
Conscious sedation is another option that dentists may use – nitrous oxide, better known as laughing gas, can slow down the body’s reaction time and induce a calm feeling.
6. Learn More About Your Treatment
Take the time to learn about your treatment and the various steps involved. Whether you’re going for an Invisalign treatment, dental implants, or a general cleaning, understanding the procedure will make it familiar rather than overwhelming.
7. Request Updates Throughout the Treatment
Depending on your preference, you may feel more at ease having the dentist explain what they’re doing throughout the procedure. For example, certain sounds may be strange, but understanding its job can put your mind at ease.
Meditation relieves stress and anxiety by focusing on the present moment. With regular practice, the brain can learn to calm itself when it recognizes triggers or experiences feelings of stress or panic – including dental visits.
9. Use a Distraction
Some people are able to completely tune out their surroundings when they get a dental procedure done, others find that they need a little help in order to relax.
Distractions can be a great way to calm dental anxiety and make the experience more pleasant. While waiting, you can read a magazine or phone a friend. During the procedure, you can ask the dentist to put on some music in the background.
10. Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique where you systematically tense and then relax all the muscles in your body. This is a great way to relieve tension and stress, and it can be done anywhere, anytime.
Start by tensing all the muscles in your feet for about 10 seconds. Then, relax them and move on to your calves, thighs, hips, torso, arms, and hands. Tense each muscle group for about 10 seconds, and then relax.
11. Guided Imagery
Guided imagery is a technique used to promote relaxation and stress relief. It involves focusing on a calming image or scene while mentally repeating a positive phrase or mantra. It’s a great coping mechanism when you’re sitting in the dentist’s chair.
Regular dental visits are important to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Practicing these effective dental anxiety coping mechanisms can help you manage your fear and give your pearly whites the TLC that they need.
Our friendly and compassionate dentist team in Boynton Beach are not only experts in dentistry but also experienced in making our valued customers feel calm and relaxed. Call us at 561-733-4004 to find out more, or request an appointment today.