How to Manage Dental Anxiety

If the prospect of seeing the dentist makes you break out in a cold sweat, you’re not alone. Maybe you’re anxious about the possibility of pain or maybe it’s been awhile since your last exam and you’re not sure what the dentist will find.

Delaying seeing your dentist will only give your dental problems time to become worse and will end up costing you more time, money and discomfort. Attending regular, routine visits with your dentist can actually help make the entire process much easier in many ways.

Drs. Clement and Kamron Monroe and their team at Drs. Monroe & Monroe Implant & General Dentistry in Pinehurst, NC want to give you some helpful hints to help you conquer your fear of the dentist’s chair. Consider using these at your next appointment to ease your anxiety while helping your smile stay healthy and strong.

1. Speak up

Fears thrive in silence. Talking about your fears and knowing that others are aware of your feelings and understand can be very comforting. So if you feel anxious about your dental treatment, let you dental team know your concerns so they can help you feel more comfortable. Your dentist and their team will be better able to help you cope with your fears if the are aware of them.

  • Let your dentist know about your anxiety. When you schedule your appointment, mention to the receptionist that dental care makes you nervous. You will also want to remind the dental staff about your anxiety when you arrive. It can also be helpful to share with your dental staff any negative treatment experiences you may have had in the past that may be contributing to your anxiety, and ask for suggestions on how to cope.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The unknown can be frightening so it may be helpful to ask your dental team to keep you informed about what the next step is during your treatment to help alleviate that fear.
  • Agree on a signal that will let your dentist know 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 don’t want to interrupt their dentist during a procedure or they may feel embarrassed about their pain tolerance but your dentist does not want to cause you any pain.

2. Distract yourself

Taking your mind off a dental procedure in progress might seem impossible when you’re anxious, but there are some things you can do that that can help you distract yourself.

  • Wear headphones. This is especially helpful if the sound of the drill makes you nervous. If you bring headphones, you can listen to your favorite music or audiobook to help you relax.
  • Keep your hands busy by squeezing a stress ball or playing with a small handheld object, like a fidget spinner.
  • Use your imagination and visualize yourself relaxing at the beach, hiking a mountain trail or wherever your “happy place” might be.

3. Use mindfulness techniques

Relaxation is a state of mind and sometimes it takes work to achieve it. Deep breathing exercises can relax tension in your muscles and relieve anxiety.

  • Count your breaths. Inhale slowly and then exhale for the same count. Do 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 in which you 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 don’t want to hurt you or scare you. They’re here to help you have a healthy smile. The best way to begin to conquer dental anxiety is to begin having positive experiences at the dentist’s office.

If you’re in the Pinehurst, NC area and are looking for dental care from a team of compassionate and skilled dental professionals, contact Drs. Monroe & Monroe at 910.420.3670 or schedule an appointment online today.

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