Millions of Americans avoid going to the dentist every year because of their dental anxiety, and it’s understandable. Many people have a fear of pain, dislike the environment in medical offices in general, or are worried their concerns about their dental health won’t be heard.
Being stressed about dental checkups isn’t uncommon. Fortunately, an experienced dentist can help you conquer your dental anxiety. At Salling & Tate, our entire team is here to make you feel as comfortable as possible. We take many measures to ensure patients of every age feel calm and at ease while in our office, and it all starts with these tips on how to reduce your stress during your next dental appointment.
1. Do your research.
The first step toward curbing dental anxiety is to make sure you’re visiting a dentist you trust. Read reviews, ask for referrals from friends and family, and check out our suggestions for how to find the right dentist for you.
2. Be honest about how you’re feeling.
We’re here to help you, so please don’t hesitate to let us know if you’re feeling anxious or stressed. We’re happy to walk you through the process to ease your fears and do everything we can to reassure you everything will be ok.
3. Make a plan.
If you can, try to schedule your dentist appointment for a day and time when you can go home and relax afterward. You might also consider having a friend or family drive you and stay during the appointment for moral support.
4. Try out some relaxation techniques.
Deep breathing techniques, positive visualization (think imagining yourself relaxing on the beach), and meditation can go a long way toward increasing your oxygen levels while also reducing heart rate, blood pressure, and stress.
5. Listen to music.
Plenty of people dislike the sounds drills, picks, and other dental tools make. To drown these out, bring some good headphones with you and listen to a podcast or music you find soothing.
6. Be careful about what you eat and drink before your visit.
Avoid eating anything sugary or drinking too much caffeine before your visit, as both of these things can make you feel uneasy and jittery. Instead, try eating something protein-rich, like meat or eggs, before your visit to help you feel full and relaxed.
7. Work with your dentist to develop a plan that helps you feel in control.
One way to do this is by establishing nonverbal cues or hand signals you can use to express when you’re uncomfortable. A good dentist will be happy to give you a break whenever you need it and ask your permission before continuing their work.
8. Ask to see the tools that will be used.
Fear of the unknown is totally natural. Asking your dentist if you can see and touch their tools can help them seem less intimidating.
9. Ask your family doctor about additional medication.
Consider visiting your general practitioner to discuss whether they can prescribe anti-anxiety medications you can take before your next dental appointment. Just make sure you arrange for a ride to and from the checkup, as these medications may cause drowsiness.
10. Don’t skip appointments.
It may seem counterintuitive that visiting the dentist more often can help relieve your fears, but it’s actually helpful! Plenty of dental fear originates from having not visited a dentist for a long time. Plus, the more you expose yourself to any experience, the less intimidating it will become over time.
If it’s time for your next cleaning and checkup, but you’re feeling a little nervous, please reach out to us! We’re happy to discuss our process with you, arrange a preliminary visit to meet our staff and see our office, or anything else we can do to ease your mind.