Going to the dentist causes many people to have a moment of panic. However, if you are truly scared or if you are so nervous that you refuse to go, it is important to recognize that you have genuine dental anxiety. This may be due to fear of pain or concern over the outcome of a dental exam.
However, it can also be due to post-traumatic stress caused by a bad experience in the past. Did you know that people with fear of hospitals or doctors are often afraid of the dentist as well? There are just so many ways that anxiety can develop.
At Sky Dental, our Arizona dentists and hygienists see many people with anxiety. We have been trained in how to help. In fact, the American Dental Association has researched this very subject. While there is no perfect solution for every person, there are some tips and tricks that every dental patient should know.
9 Ways to Overcome Dental Anxiety
- Schedule with a Buddy
Whether it’s your spouse or a friend, going to the dentist may be easier if you go as a team. Ask our scheduler about giving you overlapping or back-to-back appointments. Or, simply have them sit in the waiting room, ready to assist if your anxiety overwhelms you.
- Tell the Team
Our team may not know you have anxiety unless you tell them. Be sure to speak up and tell us your worries. You can go into as little or as much detail as you feel comfortable with. Simply saying out loud that you are very anxious can actually help you start to calm down. It will certainly give our team the chance to calm your fears as much as we can. The sooner we know, the sooner we can begin to help.
- Ask Questions.
One reason that people have anxiety is that they are afraid of the unknown. We can tell you what will happen, how long it will take and what to expect. Perhaps knowing the steps will help you feel in control.
- Establish a Sign
Why not establish a sign? Tell your hygienist or dentist that you will raise your hand if your anxiety is overwhelming you.
- Discuss Your Pain Tolerance
Some people feel pain more than others. You may want to discuss pain levels before a procedure starts and use your signal to take a break, if it gets to be too much.
- Put on Your Headphones
You can listen to music, an interesting audiobook, or a favorite podcast. When listening to music, you can use visualization to picture yourself somewhere else. Best of all, it will block some sounds that may add to your anxiety.
- Bring a Toy
A stress ball is a great thing to squeeze. You should do it at regular intervals, counting in
between squeezes, and this can take your mind off your anxiety. Other handheld objects that may work include a small stuffed animal or a fidget spinner.
- Try Mindfulness
Deep breathing exercises may help you relax. You can inhale while counting and then exhale while counting. You should do what feels comfortable to you. Counting helps you focus your mind on your breathing rather than the stressful situation.
- Get in Touch with Your Tension
Starting with your toes, relax each set of muscles. You can go all the way up and back down your body in a slow, steady scan. As you get in touch with where you hold your tension, you will occupy your mind with the exercise.
Now that you know more, we encourage you to schedule a dental cleaning. Make sure to discuss your worries with our team, and let’s get you on the road to oral health.