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7 Tips for an Anxiety-Free Dental Visit

female dental assistant comforting female patient
Author: cmcgovern Posted: September 24th, 2020 Category:

Do you dread going to the dentist? A little nervousness is normal — but don’t let your anxiety stop you from taking care of your oral health.

Afraid to go to the dentist? You’re not alone. Many people feel anxious before their semi-annual dental visit. Fear of the dentist is usually rooted in a fear of pain, needles, or an unpleasant prior experience. One study for instance found that 71 percent of respondents characterized a dental appointment as painful, 23 percent described the experience as frightening, and 9 percent referred to it as embarrassing. Those who expressed all three were at least 22.4 times more likely to have dental anxiety.

While some patients may have had unpleasant prior experiences at the dentist, much of your dental anxiety may be due to what you’ve heard in the media or from friends and family. Who hasn’t heard stories of harrowing root canals? Yet if you delay a dental appointment because of your anxiety or fear, you could be setting yourself up for more serious oral problems — and pain — in the future. Better to overcome your anxiety and schedule that appointment now. Here’s how to make your dental appointment as stress-free as possible.

7 Tips to Make Dental Visits Less Stressful

Before and during your dental appointment try these seven tips to help you deal with your anxiety. It’s normal to feel some stress before any medical visit, it’s how you manage that stress that counts. Here are a few steps to help you ease your mind: 

  • Speak to Your Dentist Before Your Visit. Talk to your dentist over the phone or an app like Zoom prior to your appointment. Open communication between you and your dentist establishes a bond of trust, which can assuage your anxiety. Your dentist has been trained in dealing with anxious patients, so tell him or her how you’re feeling. He or she will understand and discuss ways to help you cope with your anxiety. It also helps your dentist understand what may be making you feel anxious. Is it the needle? Pain? The sound of the drill? Whatever it is, your dentist will help you overcome your anxiety by working with you.  
  • Practice Relaxation Techniques. Prior to your appointment, take a few minutes to relax by doing yoga exercises, meditation, or stretching your muscles. As you wait in the waiting room, instead of feeling anxious in preparation for the visit, take deep breaths to calm your mind and body. 
  • Ask Your Dentist to Explain the Procedure. Much of your anxiety may stem from not knowing what to expect. If this is the case, ask your dentist to explain to you the procedure in detail. Once you have an idea of what will happen, you might feel less anxious.
  • Distract Yourself. As the dental work progresses, distract yourself from discomfort by listening to your favorite tunes or podcast on your headphones. Or, request that the dentist put in a soothing DVD or a movie that will make you laugh. That way, you’ll have something else to concentrate on instead of the dental procedure.
  • Take Breaks. It’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed during the procedure. If you’re experiencing extreme discomfort or just want to pause for a few minutes, signal to your dentist it’s time to take a short break. You can discuss what signal to use — many people opt for a raised hand.
  • Request Anesthesia. Although your dentist will numb your mouth with a local anesthetic, you may want or need something stronger. More extensive dental procedures such as a wisdom tooth extraction or oral surgery may require IV sedation or general anesthesia. If you need or would prefer to have anesthesia for your procedure, your dentist will have an anesthesiologist in the office when it’s administered. Remember that it’s important to consult the dentist and anesthesiologist about your medical history when selecting this option. 

Don’t Neglect Your Oral Health

At Espire Dental, we understand that many patients may be anxious about dental procedures. That’s why we offer a relaxing, courteous environment for your patients. Our dentists work with our patients to ensure a pleasant, stress-free visit. Don’t let anxiety stop you from taking care of your oral health. Make an appointment with us today.