3 Easy & Effective Ways to Overcome Dental Anxiety
If you find you are anxious or nervous when visiting a dentist, you are not alone. It has been estimated that up to 1 in 5 Americans avoid seeing a dentist due to fear. This can lead to a neglect of preventative care, lingering problems such as tooth decay and ultimately result in needless pain and expensive restorative care. The good news is there are effective ways you can overcome these anxieties and be at ease in the dental chair. Below are three tips that can help you make dental worries and fears a thing of the past.
Locate an empathetic dentist
Clinics like Silverado Family Dental are not only trained in the technical and scientific aspects of their profession, they are also generally work with patients on a deeper level of understanding and empathy. That means finding a caring, empathetic dentist isn't difficult; it simplifies your task by knowing that these professional norms are widespread, and most dentists are skilled at providing for their patient's emotional needs.
With that said, it is perfectly reasonable for you as a prospective patient to visit different dental offices and even ask to meet the dentist for a brief introduction. Don't hesitate to ask questions about the standards of care provided; for example, ask the dentist if they use nitrous oxide or pharmaceutical sedation for anxious patients.
Get a feel for their personal rapport with patients and talk to other staff members to see how they work with the public. After all, much of the dental care you will receive will also be administered by dental assistants and hygienists.
Engage in distracting activity
A source of anxiety for some patients is the intensity of the experience in the dental chair. Lying back with no other stimulus except for what the dentist is doing can lead to a feeling of being trapped or helpless. While this feeling is not a reflection of reality, the perception is enough to bring on the discomfort for anxious patients.
This is why you should be prepared to engage in activities that are personally distracting. Bring along your favorite music and listen to it via earphones, or buy an audiobook and allow the narrator to distract you with a good story. If the dentist has a television, be sure to ask them if you can watch a favorite program during your visit.
Practice progressive relaxation
Progressive relaxation is a technique that involves lowering the body's general anxiety level and producing pleasurable feelings through the use of controlled breathing and mental imagery. It is an easy-to-learn, yet powerful, means of gaining the upper hand on anxiety by dissolving your mind's focus on fears by physiological means.
To use progressive relaxation, begin by attempting to make your body as comfortable as possible. That means wearing loose-fitting, comfortable clothing to your visit will help you feel better in the chair. Ask the staff to adjust the temperature in the room if it is too cold or too hot, and even wear a sleep mask if it helps to darken the setting.
Next, once you are seated and ready to undergo a procedure, close your eyes and begin to take notice of your own breathing patterns. Slow down the rate of respiration and take deep, long inhaled breaths through your nose, then release them through your mouth while counting to ten. Repeat this process several times until you notice a response in your body and mind; you will find your heart rate slowing down, and a general sense of well-being will start to take over.
Once you have progressed through this phase of deep breathing and enter a more relaxed state, continue the exercise by imagining your body releasing tension in each muscle group. Begin at your feet and move your way up your body; tense then relax your feet, then your ankles, thighs and so on until you reach your scalp. Repeat this process as often as you wish, and don't worry if it pulls you into such a relaxed state that you fall asleep or find the visit pass by at a seemingly-accelerated rate.