If imaging going to the dentist makes you break out in a cold sweat, you’re not alone. Maybe you’re worried about what the dentist will find because you haven’t been in a while or how painful any necessary treatment might be. Millions of people put off important dental care due to anxiety about seeing the dentist. Many people experience dental anxiety and you are not alone in needing to learn ways to manage your dental anxiety.
However, waiting to see the dentist will only make whatever dental issues you may have worse and cause you to spend more time, money at the dentist and possibly experience more discomfort. Scheduling regular, routine check-ups with your dentist can actually help make the entire process much easier on many levels.
Dr. Brent Engelberg and his team at AH Smiles in Arlington Heights, IL want to give you some tips to help you conquer your fear of the dentist’s chair. Use these helpful hints at your next appointment to help alleviate your anxiety and keep your smile healthy and strong.
1. Speak up
Fears tend to become more manageable when you speak them aloud and knowing that others are aware of your feelings can be very comforting. If you’re feeling anxious, do yourself a favor and let your dental team know about anxiety. Your dentist and their team can make you more comfortable if they know about your concerns.
- Talk to your dentist about your anxiety. When you schedule with your dentist’s office, inform the receptionist that dental care makes you nervous and remind the dental staff about your anxiety when you arrive for your treatment. It can be helpful to share any bad experiences you may have had in the past, and ask for suggestions on how to cope.
- Don’t hesitate to ask questions of your dental care team. Not knowing what is coming next in your treatment can be frightening so asking your dental team to let you know what is going to happen next can help you relieve that fear.
- Agree on a signal that will tell your dentist you need to take a break during an exam, such as raising your hand.
- If you feel any pain even with a local anesthetic, let your dentist know immediately. Some patients may feel embarrassed about their pain tolerance or don’t want to interrupt a dentist during a procedure but your dentist would want to know.
2. Distract yourself
Taking your mind off the exam might seem like a tall order when you’re anxious, but there are some ways you can 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 so the sound isn’t so overwhelming.
- Keep your hands busy by squeezing a stress ball or playing with a small handheld object, like a fidget spinner.
- Visualize yourself relaxing at the beach or another “happy place” while you’re undergoing treatment.
3. Use mindfulness techniques to manage dental anxiety
Relaxation is a state of mind. Try deep breathing exercises to 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.
- Perform a body scan on yourself. Focus on relaxing your muscles, one body part at a time, starting with your head and working your way down to your toes. Release tension starting in your forehead, then your cheeks, your neck and move down through the rest of your body.
Remember: Your dentist and their team want to help you have a healthier and more beautiful 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 which will help you not to feel so anxious about treatment. You can manage your dental anxiety!
If you’re in the Arlington Heights, IL area and are looking for dental care from a team of compassionate and skilled dental professionals, contact Dr. Engelberg and his team at AH Smiles at (847) 230-9703 or schedule an appointment online today.