Dealing with Dental Anxiety

Dental anxiety is not just on old wives’ tale. In fact, it is estimated that between 9 and 20% of Americans actually avoid going to the dentist because of this fear. No need to fret, however. Should you be one of the many that has a natural aversion to your 6-month checkup, read these tips to help get you completely prepared—and eased—before your next appointment.

Speak with your dentist.

The most important thing you can do is speak with your dentist about your concerns. Make sure that he or she is well aware of your anxiety so that methods to enhance the feeling of control can be utilized. Ask that your dentist explain what is happening at all times, and be sure that you have the opportunity to stop the procedure, if needed. You might even want to consider scheduling time for breaks.

Bring someone you trust.

Have a friend or family remember drive you to the dentist and stay during your appointment. Just knowing that someone you are close to is in the office can ease some of your anxiety. You may even consider asking the dentist if your close friend or relative can sit in on the appointment with you.

Shift your focus when in the chair.

Look for ways to stay distracted while in the chair, such as listening to music or an audio book on your headphones or watching television, if that is an option. Focus on anything to keep your mind off of the fact that you are at the dentist, even something as mundane as going over your to-do’s for the day in your head.

Try relaxation techniques.

Try using various relaxation techniques while in the chair to help ease your mind. Focus on controlling your breathing by taking a deep breath, holding it, and slowly letting it out. Another idea is to try muscle relaxation, like tensing various muscle groups and then relaxing them to help calm your nerves.

Take sedatives when appropriate.

Discuss with your dentist beforehand whether or not the use of sedatives is an appropriate and available option, such as oral medication or nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”). If it is, this can be a great tool to help naturally reduce some of your anxiety in a healthy and controlled setting.

If you suffer with dental anxiety, try using some of the above techniques, and be certain to speak with your dentist so that he or she can properly address all of your concerns before your next appointment.