Tips on Dealing with Dental Anxiety

Dental anxiety affects approximately one in seven people. Fear of going to the dentist can cause you to cancel appointments frequently and wait prolonged periods of time between appointments, which will lead to poor dental health. The good news is that dental anxiety can be managed with techniques that don’t require medication (although medication is appropriate for people with severe anxiety). Here are some tips on how to deal with dental anxiety.

  1. Identify your fear
    Acknowledging the fact that you have dental anxiety is the first step to managing it. Do you put off making dental appointments? Does the thought of going to the dentist make your heart race and give you stress? How do you feel while you are in the waiting room at the dentist? If these activities trigger anxiety, you likely have dental anxiety. Understand that this is occurs in more people than you think and there are ways to manage it.

  2. Understand what will happen
    Uncertainty can cause anxiety so make sure you know what to expect during your appointment. Read all the preparatory materials and gather as much information as you need to feel comfortable. Ask questions to prepare yourself for the appointment. This will give you a sense of control over the situation, which can help reduce your anxiety.

  3. Distract yourself
    Cognitive distraction has been found to decrease anxiety in dental situations. Think about a pleasant scene or happy memory while you are in the dentist’s chair. Know that this will help to reduce your anxiety and it will.

    For children, several types of distraction methods have been reported to work, including “video-taped cartoons, audio-taped stories and video games.” Audio distractions are more effective than video, presumably because children can close their eyes and avoid looking at the things that are causing their anxiety.

  4. Influence your environment
    The scent of lavender has been proven to reduce immediate fear about treatment. If you can, bring a scented lavender pouch with you or dab lavender essential oil on your clothes or skin. This will help you to stay calm during your appointment.

  5. Visualize a successful appointment
    Visualization techniques can give you a sense of control over your fears by programming a successful outcome in your mind. Sit silently and visualize everything from making your appointment, driving to the dentist’s office, waiting in the waiting room and undergoing treatment with a calm, happy feeling. Every time you start to feel anxiety during your visualization, pause and acknowledge it. Take a few deep breaths, let the feeling pass and then continue. Do this until you have minimal fear and anxiety during the visualization.

  6. Find a dentist who cares and understands
    Patients with dental anxiety are not a fit for every dentist. The dentists at Tru Family Dental exercise a greater level of understanding and good communication to successfully work with patients who have anxiety. We are trained in non-pharmacological anxiety management practices to work with anxious children and adults. We practice everything from taking frequent breaks, to using hand signals to identify discomfort, to finding the right level of communication you prefer in order to give you the best experience possible. Make sure to communicate your fears to your dentist so you can benefit from the best patient-dentist relationship.

If you have anxiety about the dentist, know that you are not alone. This fear afflicts many people and can be a barrier to good dental health. Acknowledging your anxiety and taking steps to manage it will make sure you maintain a healthy mouth and have a successful dental visit with minimal anxiety.

Posted In: Oral & Dental Health Tips