Do you put off routine dental care or much-needed dental work because of anxiety? Anxiety is how your body reacts to what you perceive to be stressful or unfamiliar situations. So that sense of distress or dread you have before an event manifests itself as anxiety. While a bit of anxiety can be useful, keeping us alert and aware in certain situations, it can also be debilitating when you are in need of dental care and delaying treatment.
Routine dental appointments allow us to help you keep your teeth and gums healthy and avoiding this treatment can cause small problems to deteriorate your oral health, leaving you with bigger problems to deal with later.
Signs of Dental Anxiety
- Aggressive behavior
- Extreme sweating
- Feeling faint
- Heart palpitations
- Low blood pressure
- Panic attacks
Dental anxiety is hard to ignore, so it’s important to recognize and address it. While dental anxiety impacts around 36 percent of the population, we can work together to make your dental visit comfortable and pleasant so you get the care you need!
1 – Schedule your visit in the morning as it tends to be the least busy time in the office. Fewer patients being treated mean less noise in the background and spending less time stressing over your upcoming appointment time.
2 – Communicate with our dental team in advance about your dental anxiety. We can make your visit easier, whether by explaining what you can expect during your treatment or discussing dental sedation. Over-the-counter analgesics offer pain relief while helping with anxiety. Nitrous oxide (or laughing gas) that is inhaled during your treatment helps you relax. Or, our dentist can prescribe an anti-anxiety oral sedative to take before your visit, and in some cases, anesthesia may also be an option.
3 – Bring a friend or family member with you to support and distract you and elevate your mood. They can even drive you home afterward so you can decompress and bask in the aftermath of completing a successful dental visit!
4 – Relax when you get here by using noise-canceling headphones (or earbuds) to block out unnecessary stimulation. Listening to music, your favorite podcast or a meditation app can also destress you while you are here.
5 – Speaking of a meditation app, listen to your favorite calming meditation while you wait and in the dental chair. Beginning with your head, relax your muscles, one body part at a time, slowly moving down your body until you reach your feet.
6 – Do some slow, deep breathing. Those calming breaths help ease your mind so you feel more relaxed. Block out external stimulation by closing your eyes, then breathing slowly in through your nose, holding, and slowly breathing out through your mouth. Repeat til you feel the difference.
7 – Practice some guided imagery. This is a good time to picture happy thoughts as you lie back in the dentist’s chair. Enjoy your favorite or funniest memories. Reminiscing about those wonderful moments feels nostalgic like you’re reliving those moments all over again!
8 – Request a break during your treatment. Work out a signal with our dentist and assistant that means “pause” so you can catch your breath and calm yourself for a moment. Knowing this can help you feel more empowered instead of helpless.
Don’t Delay, Call Today
Dental anxiety interferes with getting the dental care your teeth and gums need to thrive. Whether you’re anxious because of a past traumatic dental experience, fear a loss of control as someone is working over you, or you’re scared it will be painful, we can work together to make your dental visit great. We welcome you to call our team to address your concerns and take a confident leap by scheduling your next dental visit! Your smile will look and feel better and you’ll be glad you did!