For many people, the thought of going to the dentist can create stress and anxiety. If you are included in this group, you aren’t alone. Close to 40 million Americans report some kind of fear or anxiety that prevents them from going to the dentist. For these people, going to a dental office can trigger a panic attack that can range from mild to severe. From fear of pain to a prior negative experience, there are many reasons people are afraid of the dentist. Unfortunately, this fear prevents many from seeking dental care, and often, their oral health suffers.
One of the best ways to deal with dental anxiety is to establish good communication between you and your dentist. You will typically experience less anxiousness when you feel informed and in control during your visit. Seeking a first-rate dentistry team will help manage your anxiety through excellent communication. Aside from this, however, there a few other things that you can do to manage your dental stress. Let’s take a look at some tips to help make your dental office appointment less horrible.
1. Talk to your dentist.
One of the most important things that you can do to calm your fears about the dental office is to talk about it. If you are feeling stress and anxiety about your visit, you should let the dental staff and doctor know how you’re feeling. The staff at the dental practice deals with patients who are scared every day.
By letting them know what’s going on, your dentist will likely work to help alleviate your fears and keep you calm during your dental treatment. The dentist will also be able to plan a strategy and treatment plan to ease your anxiety and get you the care you need.
2. Listen to nice music.
Some people report that the sound of the tools and the doctor working is a major source of anxiety. To help combat this, you might consider listening to some music through headphones during your exam. You will need to speak with your dentist first to make sure that it’s okay and that it’s safe, however, it can help a lot. Relaxing music could ease your mind and allow you to focus on something else. Some patients also find that listening to relaxing music before their appointment also helps them to stay calm.
3. Use hand signals.
A common practice in general dentistry is for patients to use hand signals during a dental procedure. Hand signals are a great way for you to communicate with your dentist while they are working. Since you can’t speak easily during a procedure, you’ll be able to signal if you need a break or are in pain.
Having hand signals with your dental hygienist and doctor will allow you to be in control even when you can’t speak. If your dental office doesn’t use hand signals it’s worth talking to the team and developing some for your visit.
4. Focus on healthy breathing.
When most people are nervous, they unknowingly stop breathing. Someone under stress will typically hold their breath and not even realize that they are doing it. When this happens, there is a decrease in the amount of oxygen in your system and will actually increase nervousness and anxiety.
If you know that you will be anxious during your dental procedure, try to practice some breathing techniques before you go. Taking slow deep breaths will also help relax you and give you something to focus on during your visit.
5. Choose the right appointment time.
To make sure that you aren’t stressed before your visit, you should choose an appointment time when you’re not rushed or under pressure. Usually, this means that you should visit the dental office in the middle of the day or even on a weekend. If you go during the morning or at the end of the day, you might find that it’s busier and that can be anxiety-inducing. You’ll want to go when you’re relaxed and have plenty of time to get there.
For some people, going to the dental office can be a very stressful situation. Trying to calm down with music, focusing on your breathing, and selecting a good appointment time are just a few things that you can try to help you relax for your visit. The most important thing, however, is to speak to your dentist about your concerns. You and your dental team can work together to make sure that your visit is a great experience.