It’s no secret that many people have fears or anxiety about going to the dentist. A lot of this fear stems from pain from past experiences at the dentist. Alternatively, it may come from worries of judgment for your in-home oral care. Whatever your fears may be, your dental care team should work to help reduce your fear of the dentist’s office.

Reducing Anxiety By Talking with Your Dentist

If you are afraid or nervous when being treated by the dentist, try discussing it with them. Many dentists are accustomed to the anxiety surrounding their profession. But if you let the dentist know ahead of time, they can work with you to reduce your fears. When you make an appointment for your dental visit, let the receptionist know that you are nervous. Be sure to remind the dental staff that you are nervous when you arrive, too.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions regarding treatment or procedures. Sometimes, knowing what the dentist is doing will help reduce your fear. Dentists may be able to help with your anxiety by working with you. You may want to agree on a signal if you are getting too nervous, such as raising your hand.

Pain and Discomfort at the Dentist

Additionally, don’t be afraid to notify your dentist if you are experiencing pain or discomfort. If you are feeling pain, especially after a local anesthetic, notify your dentist. Many patients assume that the pain is normal, or feel embarrassed about their pain tolerance. Talk with your dentist about pain before treatment so they can help make it more comfortable for you.

Distracting Yourself

Distractions can help you curb your anxiety and get through an appointment. There are a few ways you can distract yourself during an exam. Firstly, bring headphones. Music or an audiobook can help distract you. Drowning out the sound of the drill can be very effective in reducing fear. Unfortunately, you may not be able to use them in every session, as your dentist may need to communicate with you during treatment. Alternatively, you can occupy your hands with a stress ball or fidget toy.
Some dental offices may have tv screens that can provide distractions as well. Talk with the dentist or dental staff regarding helpful distractions that can make your appointments easier.

Reducing Anxiety Through Mindfulness Techniques

Mindfulness techniques such as meditation and deep breathing can go a long way in reducing stress. Because of this, practicing mindfulness techniques at the dentist can help reduce anxiety and keep your mind occupied. Try deep breathing exercises while waiting for the dentist to start, or during breaks while you are in the dental chair. Visualize a relaxing or happy place. Overall, this can be a good way to distract yourself and keep calm.
Lastly, try focusing on other parts of the body. It can be easy to be overly aware of your mouth when the dentist is treating you. Try concentrating on wiggling your toes gently, or twiddling your fingers. This can help take your mind off of what the dentist is doing.

A Center for Dental Excellence does not provide medical or healthcare advice via articles. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for medical advice.
A Center for Dental Excellence provides expert dental care to the Brooklyn and Staten Island communities we serve. To schedule an appointment or consultation, contact us or call the office you would like to visit. (718) 232-8289 for Brooklyn, and (718) 980-9555 for Staten Island.