Fear of the dentist is actually fairly common, with approximately 15% of Americans experiencing dental anxiety or dental fear. Whether your fear stems from a negative past experience, pain aversion, fear of what the dentist will find, or some other cause, you can try relaxation techniques to help alleviate it.
Dr. Jacob McLauchlin at MAC Dental in Nixa, MO encourages patients with dental fear to take small steps to alleviate their anxiety. Scheduling an appointment with the dentist to establish a treatment plan can actually make the entire process much easier, so while you prepare for your appointment, try the following relaxation techniques.
1. Speak up
Speaking fears aloud makes them become less powerful. The dentist’s office is a safe place to let the staff know about your anxieties, and letting them know when you check in that you are experiencing some trepidation helps them treat you better. The staff can’t help if they don’t know!
- Don’t hesitate to ask questions.
- Agree on a signal that will tell the dentist you need a break during the cleaning or exam, such as raising your hand.
- If you feel pain even after a local anesthetic is administered, tell the dentist. Anesthesia is there for a reason, and your dentist can give you more to make sure you’re comfortable. Don’t feel embarrassed about pain tolerance or interrupting the dentist.
2. Distract yourself
Taking your mind off what is happening while you’re in such a vulnerable position might seem impossible, but it’s actually very common even for people without severe dental anxiety to distract themselves.
- 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 busy by squeezing a stress ball or playing with a small handheld object.
- Visualize yourself in a more relaxing setting, such as a beach or quiet resort.
3. Use mindfulness techniques
Relaxation is a state of mind. Try deep breathing exercises to relax tension in your muscles and relieve anxiety.
- Count your breaths and take several deep breaths in and out through your nose both in the waiting room and while you’re in the dentist’s chair.
- Remind yourself to relieve tension in your neck and jaw. Many patients, even those without dental anxiety, tense up during procedures and would feel better if they release the tension built up in their neck.
Remember: Your dentist and their team are here to help you have a healthier smile. They don’t want you to be afraid or to hurt you. Make sure to communicate your fears so they can help you begin having positive experiences at the dentist’s office.
If you’re in the Nixa, MO area and are looking for dental care from a team of compassionate and skilled dental professionals, contact MAC Dental at 417-725-3200 or schedule an appointment online today.