Tips to Manage Dental Anxiety

For some of us, just thinking about sitting in the dentist’s chair causes us a feeling of dread. You might be worried about pain or maybe you know you haven’t been examined in a while and you’re afraid of what the dentist will find.

However, putting off seeing the dentist will only give whatever dental issues you already have time to become worse. In the end, this will mean that you’ll spend more time and money at the dentist’s office and ultimately endure more discomfort. Seeing your dentist for routine appointments at least every 6 months can actually help make dental care much easier on many levels.

Coastal Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry in Virginia Beach, VA wants to give you some tips to help you manage your fear of dental care. These helpful hints may help your make your next appointment less stressful, making it easier for you to keep your smile healthy and strong.

1. Speak up

Fears sometimes seem to lessen when you voice them. The knowledge that others are aware of your feelings and understand can be very comforting. If you’re feeling anxious, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to let your dental team know your concerns. Your dentist and their team will be better able to care for you and your smile if they know your concerns.

  • Discuss your anxiety with your dentist. When you schedule your appointment, inform the receptionist that dental care makes you nervous and remind the dental staff about your feelings when you arrive. You may benefit from sharing any bad experiences you may have had in the past, and asking for suggestions on how to cope.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Not knowing or understanding what is going on during treatment can be frightening. Ask your dental team to let you know what the next step will be and what is happening to help alleviate that fear.
  • Agree on a signal that will let your dentist or hygienist know that you need to take a break during an exam, such as raising your hand.
  • Inform your dentist immediately if you feel any pain during a procedure, even with a local anesthetic. Some patients may feel embarrassment about their tolerance to pain or don’t want to interrupt a dentist during treatment but your comfort is of the utmost importance to your dentist.

2. Distract yourself

Taking your mind off of your dental treatment might seem impossible when you’re anxious, but there are some tricks you can use to distract yourself.

  • Wear headphones. If the sound of the drill makes you nervous, bring along headphones so you can listen to your favorite music, audiobook or podcast.
  • Keep your hands occupied by squeezing a stress ball or playing with a small handheld object such as a fidget spinner or fidget cube.
  • Use your imagination and visualize yourself relaxing at the beach or another “happy place”.

3. Use mindfulness techniques

Relaxation is a state of mind. Try deep breathing exercises to relax tension in your muscles and relieve anxiety.

  • Count your breaths. Inhale slowly and then exhale for the same count. Do this at least five times while you’re waiting for your appointment, or during breaks from treatment while you’re still in the dentist’s chair.
  • Do a body scan. Focus on relaxing your muscles, one body part at a time. Start with your head and work your way down to your toes. For example, concentrate on releasing tension starting in your forehead, then your cheeks, your neck and down the rest of your body.

Remember: Your dentist and their team don’t want to hurt you or be afraid. They want to help you have a healthier smile.  It’s important to communicate your fears so they can help you start having positive experiences at the dentist’s office.

If you’re in the Virginia Beach, VA area and are looking for dental care from a team of compassionate and skilled dental professionals, contact Coastal Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry at (757) 453-7657 for our Laskin Road office or (757) 264-6361 for our Haygood Road office or request an appointment online today.