woman smiling at the dentist

How to Deal with Dental Anxiety

For many patients, the thought of going to the dentist can bring on anxiety, so much so that there’s a delay in scheduling appointments. Yet, this delay can be detrimental to both your smile and your oral health. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can deal with your anxiety and move past the fears that keep you away.

Reasons Behind Dental Anxiety

There are several reasons you may experience dental anxiety, including:

  • A fear of pain that a dental exam or procedure may induce
  • A real fear of needles and shots
  • A negative reaction to the sound of a drill or other dental equipment
  • A nervous or apprehensive fear of having someone working inside your mouth
  • A past negative experience during a dental visit
  • A feeling of embarrassment about the current state of your teeth and the fact that you haven’t practiced good oral hygiene
  • A feeling of loss of control or invasion of personal space

Determine which of these you are experiencing and focus on ways to relieve them or at least deal with them so you can schedule that next appointment.

How to Deal with Your Dental Anxiety

Don’t let dental anxiety get the better of you and keep you from achieving a confident smile. Consider the following ways to deal with it to ensure you receive the care you need.

Find a dentist you trust and tell them about your dental anxiety

Seek out a dental office you feel comfortable in and speak with the dentist about your anxiety. Share any negative experiences you’ve had in the past, what your fears are, and what makes you so uncomfortable when sitting in the dentist’s chair.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions before, during, or after any visit. Knowing more about what dental visits involve can sometimes be helpful and alleviate the fear of the unknown.

You need to be comfortable with the dentist and also the staff in order to help deal with your anxiety. While it may not go away entirely, you may feel reassured that you can always speak up when visiting your dental office, and they will take the time to listen and understand.

Learn about the modern technology used today in dental offices

If one of your fears is related to the use of drills, other equipment, or certain procedures, find out what new technology is available at your dental office. For example, if you dread those uncomfortable, sticky dental impressions, find a dentist that offers other options. At Linworth Family Dental, we offer our patients digital impressions instead, which are more convenient and less time-consuming.

Other advanced technology to look for includes digital X-rays and intraoral cameras. All of these can provide you with more comfort during exams and procedures and make going to the dentist less dreadful.

Work out a signal to take a break

Once you arrive in the dentist’s chair for a cleaning, exam, or procedure, let your dental team know that you want to have a signal to alert them that you need a break. This one small action can help you feel more in control and able to stop to catch your breath or calm yourself if panic or an uncomfortable feeling arises.

Find ways to distract yourself

A proven way to help you lessen the thoughts that lead to anxiety is to distract yourself during your appointment. Ways to accomplish this may include any of the following:

  • Listening to your favorite music, a podcast, or an audiobook
  • Visualizing a favorite place where you enjoy spending time
  • Mindfully creating lists, such as what to pack for an upcoming trip or the books you’ve read this year so far
  • Focusing on a mantra from your medication or yoga practice or using other mindfulness techniques

Utilize relaxation methods

To help you experience calm during your dental appointment, consider using relaxation methods such as focusing on your breathing. Close your eyes, then slowly inhale. Hold for four seconds, then slowly release. Keep this up for several minutes.

Your dentist may also offer comfort items such as warm blankets, eye masks, and earphones to help you relax.

Bring someone with you to your appointment

Sitting and waiting in a dental office for your appointment can increase your anxiety. So, consider bringing someone with you, such as a family member or supportive friend.

They can help distract you on the drive to the appointment, as well as while you wait to be called back. Make plans to go somewhere together, as a reward, following your dental visit, so you have something fun to look forward to.

Discuss sedation dentistry with your dentist

Finally, you may find that your anxiety is too intense, and you need other options. If so, consider talking with your dentist and discussing sedation dentistry. Here at Linworth Family Dental, we offer anxious patients safe IV sedation dentistry to help reduce any pain and ease anxiety.

Contact Linworth Family Dental to Discuss Your Dental Anxiety Today

If you experience anxiety even at the thought of a dental appointment, you’re not alone. Linworth Family Dental compassionately works with our patients to find the best way to help ease that anxiety and maintain optimal dental health at the same time. Call our office today or request a consultation through our online contact form.

1 thought on “How to Deal with Dental Anxiety”

  1. I appreciated the tip about distracting myself by listening to music, a podcast, or an audiobook to reduce dental anxiety. There is this audiobook that I have been setting aside for a while. I’ll take my dental visit as an opportunity to finally listen to it.

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