For many people, merely thinking about a dental appointment causes us a feeling of unease. Maybe you’re worried because you haven’t seen the dentist in a while and you’re afraid of what he or she will find. Or maybe you’re worried about pain.
Delaying seeing your dentist will only make your dental issues worse and end up causing you to spend more time, money and discomfort. Scheduling regular appointments with your dentist can actually help ease dental anxiety and make the entire process much easier on many levels.
How to Handle Dental Anxiety
Dr. Sara Gotwalt and Dr. John Gotwalt and their team at Gotwalt Distinguished Family Care in Lititz, PA would like to give you some hints to help you cope with your fear of the dentist’s chair. These tips can help you ease your anxiety so you can attend your next appointment and help your smile stay healthy and strong.
1. Speak up
Fears tend to lose their power over you when you speak them aloud and knowing that others are aware of your feelings and understand can be very comforting. If you’re feeling anxious, you should let your dental team know your concerns. Your dental care team will be better able to treat you if they know your needs.
- Be open with your dentist and their team about your anxiety. When you schedule your exam, let the receptionist know that dental care makes you nervous and remind them when you arrive. It may help to share with your dental provider any negative experiences you had at a dentist’s office in the past, and ask for their suggestions on ways to cope.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Not knowing what is going to happen next can be worrisome so asking your dental team to keep you informed during the treatment can be key.
- Agree on a signal that will let your dentist or hygienist know when you need to take a break during an exam, such as raising your hand.
- If you feel any pain even with a local anesthetic, tell your dentist immediately. Some patients may feel embarrassed about their pain tolerance or may be hesitant to interrupt a dentist during a procedure.
2. Distract yourself
When you’re already nervous, try taking your mind off the exam — even though this might seem impossible. Here are some things you can do to help distract yourself.
- Wear headphones. If the sound of the drill makes you nervous, bring headphones so you can listen to your favorite music or audiobook.
- Keep your hands occupied by squeezing a stress ball or playing with a small handheld object, like a fidget spinner or cube.
- Use your imagination and visualize yourself relaxing at the beach or another “happy place”.
3. Use mindfulness techniques
Relaxation is a state of mind and you can achieve it if you try. Deep breathing exercises can relax tension in your muscles and relieve dental anxiety.
- Count your breaths. Inhale slowly and then exhale for the same count. Repeat this 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. Begin 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 dentist and their team want to help you have a healthier smile; not hurt you or scare you. Sharing your fears with your dental care team can help you overcome them and begin having positive experiences with dental treatment.
Dental Anxiety Relief
If you’re in the Lititz, PA area and are looking for dental care from a team of compassionate and skilled dental professionals, contact Gotwalt Distinguished Family Care at 717-220-4651 or schedule an appointment online today.