Dental anxiety is nothing to scoff at. It impacts many, many patients and the severity of the condition can range from mild to “I-am-not-going-to-the-dentist-no-matter-how-direly-I-need-to”.
Now, we aren’t going to promise that trying out the following four strategies will guarantee that you will be able to immediately step into the dentist’s office without a sliver of fear, but these may help to alleviate anxiety levels.
1. Don’t Try To Ignore Or Hide Your Feelings
You may be tempted to do your best to simply suppress your dental anxiety, but this can end up making things worse!
Seriously, please do not be afraid to speak up about your dental anxiety. You can even request that your dentist is reminded of this condition whenever you make an appointment, ensuring that they are properly prepared to accommodate you to the best of their abilities. This may mean discussing alternative pain management methods, encouraging you to ask questions, coming up with individualized tactics to lessen your fear or something else entirely.
Trust us, it is way more common than you’d think and your dentist should know how to handle this situation correctly. If they don’t, it might actually be time to consider changing dentists.
2. Utilize Mindfulness Techniques
Deep breathing exercises, practicing a steady and relaxed naming of emotions: “joy,” “anger,” “frustration”, etc., repeating a mantra or mentally relaxing your body by focusing on each body part from your forehead down can keep your nerves at bay. You can also ask a professional to dole out a few other ideas too!
3. Aim To Make Good Pre-Appointment Choices
Do you get nauseous at the thought of undergoing dental procedures? Then it’s probably not a great idea to treat yourself to a giant meal before you head in for one. Do get shaky when you catch sight of gleaming dental tools? Go ahead and skip the caffeine. And on and on.
In other words, try to avoid making decisions that will make your life harder by thinking clearly and critically. Easy-peasy, right?
4. Distract Yourself
Sometimes you just have to close your eyes and imagine that you are anywhere else (probably not a dental-themed bash though, huh?). Listen to music, bring a stress ball to squeeze, watch a movie, read a magazine or play an audio book.