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Dental Anxiety: 3 ways to stop fearing the Dentist

If you ever get nervous just thinking about going to the dentist, you’re not the only person. The thought that the visit might hurt, or the fact that you haven’t been in a while and you’re not sure what the dentist will find.

Whatever your reason, the right dental team will always make sure you are comfortable while they are taking care of your dental health. The more you delay – or just don’t go – to the dentist, the higher your risk of developing dental problems that will make gearing up for future dental visits even more difficult. In fact, seeing your dentist regularly can actually make the entire process – from making an appointment to sailing through it – much easier on many levels.

Use these strategies at your next appointment to help ease your anxiety and strengthen your smile.

1. Let your dentist know what you are feeling…It’s Important

Anyone with anxiety knows sharing your feelings makes a world of difference. If you’re tense or anxious, do yourself a favor and get your concerns off your chest. Your dentist and dental team are better able to treat you if they know your needs.

  • Tell your dentist about your anxiety. Share any bad experiences you may have had in the past, and ask for suggestions on coping strategies.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Agree on a signal like asking him for a break by raising your hand or something you come up with yourself.
  • If you experience pain even with a local anesthetic, tell your dentist.

2. Think about anything else

Taking your mind off the exam may seem impossible when you’re nervous, but there are some things that that can help distract your thoughts.

  • Wear headphones. If the sound of the drill bothers you, bring headphones so you can listen to your favorite music or audiobook. Some dental offices even have televisions or show DVDs.
  • Occupy your hands by squeezing a stress ball or playing with a small handheld object, like a fidget spinner.
  • Imagine your happy place and visualize yourself at a relaxing beach or garden.

3. Relax Yourself.

Relaxation starts in the mind. Try deep breathing exercises to help relax tension in your muscles.

  • Count your breaths. Inhale slowly and then exhale for the same number of counts. Do this five times while you’re waiting for your appointment, or during breaks while you’re sitting in the dental chair.

Do a body scan. Concentrate on relaxing your muscles, one body part at a time. Start with your head and work your way down to your toes. For example, you can focus on releasing tension starting in your forehead, then your cheeks, your neck and down the rest of your body.