How to Manage Dental Anxiety

If merely considering going to the dentist makes you feel anxious, you’re not alone. Maybe you’re dreading that there might be some pain or maybe you haven’t been in a while and you’re unsure what the dentist will find. 

However, putting off seeing your dentist will only allow whatever dental problems you already have to worsen. In the end you will probably need more procedures and more complex procedures which means spending even more time and money at the dentist’s office and ultimately experiencing more discomfort. Having routine dental examinations at least every 6 months can make going to the dentist’s office much easier for you on many levels.

Dr. Albert Caves and his team at Caves Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in Columbus, GA want to give you some tips to help you triumph over your fear of the dentist’s chair. Breaking out these helpful hints at your next dental appointment can help you alleviate your anxiety, so your smile can stay healthy and strong. 

1. Speak up 

Fears can become more manageable when you speak them aloud and are sure that others are aware of your feelings and understand. This can be very comforting so if you are feeling anxious at your dental appointment, do yourself a favor and let you dental team know your concerns. Your dentist and their team will be better address your concerns and effectively treat you if they know your needs. 

  • Talk to your dentist and their team about your fears. When you schedule your exam, inform the receptionist that dental care makes you nervous and remind the staff again when you arrive. It may be helpful to share negative experiences you may have had at a prior dental appointment, and ask for their suggestions on how to cope. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Knowing what is going on in your treatment can help reduce the fear of the unknown that often causes dental anxiety. 
  • Agree on a signal — such as raising your hand — that will tell your dentist you need to take a break during an exam or procedure. 
  • If you feel any pain even with a local anesthetic, inform your dentist immediately. Some patients may feel embarrassed about their tolerance to pain or may hesitate to interrupt a dentist during a procedure but your dentist never wants you to be uncomfortable.  

2. Distract yourself 

Keeping your mind off the exam might seem like a tall order when you’re anxious, but there are some techniques you can use that can help you distract yourself. 

  • Wear headphones. If the sound of the drill bothers you, bring headphones to listen to your favorite music or audiobook to distract yourself.  
  • Keep your hands occupied by squeezing a stress ball or playing with a small handheld object, such as a fidget spinner. 
  • Use your imagination and picture yourself relaxing at the beach or another “happy place” of your choosing.  

3. Use mindfulness techniques 

Relaxation is a state of mind that you can reach even in stressful times with some help. Try deep breathing exercises to relax tension in your muscles and relieve anxiety. 

  • Count your breaths. Inhale slowly and then exhale for the same count at least five times while you’re waiting for your appointment, or during breaks from treatment while you’re still in the dentist’s chair. 
  • Do a body scan. Focus on relaxing your muscles, one body part at a time, beginning with your head and work your way down to your toes. For example, concentrate on releasing tension starting in your forehead, then your cheeks, your neck and down the rest of your body. 

Remember: Your dental team are there to help you keep your smile healthy and strong; not hurt you or scare you.  Try sharing your anxieties with your dental team so they can help you overcome them and start having positive experiences at the dentist’s office instead.  

If you live or work in the Columbus, GA area and are looking for dental care from a team of compassionate and skilled dental professionals, contact Caves Family & Cosmetic Dentistry at (706) 407-4851 or schedule an appointment online today.