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Girl in dental chair with her hands over her mouth in fear

5 Ways to Ease Dental Anxiety

Combating Dental Anxiety

If you have a fear of a dentist, the good news is — you’re not alone. Studies show that nearly 36% of the population have dental anxiety, and approximately 12% suffer from extreme fear. However, dental anxiety can have a negative effect on your oral health. It is one of the most common reasons people avoid their regular dental visits, putting them at an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

While there are a number of valid reasons for dental anxiety, there are also various ways to help ease your fears and combat your anxiety.

Symptoms of Dental Anxiety

Most people experience some level of apprehension leading up to their dental appointment, but typically people who struggle with dental anxiety are hindered from scheduling or attending appointments.

If you suffer from a fear of the dentist, you may experience symptoms such as:

  • Crying.
  • Hyperventilation or extreme breathing.
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Extreme sweating.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Trembling.
  • Trouble concentrating on anything other than the dental visit.

Causes of Dental Anxiety

Common causes of Dental Anxiety include:

  • Prior traumatic experience.
  • Adopting attitudes from family members, peers, and role models.
  • Fear of pain.
  • History of generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Dislike of common dental noises such as drilling.
  • Fear of needles.

Easing Your Dental Anxiety

So how do you combat your fear of the dentist? While it may feel impossible to imagine, alleviating your symptoms is achievable.

Try these tips before your next dental visit, and remind yourself that you can do it!

1. Express Your Fears to the Dentist

Communicating your emotions can be scary because you may be afraid of someone passing judgment, but expressing your fears to the dentist can make your experience so much more positive!

If your dentist is aware of your fears, they can go the extra mile to make sure you are comfortable during your visit. And don’t be afraid to ask questions! They can explain each step to you during your dental exam or procedure to also ease your mind. Once you have a better understanding of what will be done to your body, you may experience less anxiety.

2. Take Deep Breaths

Breathing exercises are an important step in reducing stress. They can both relax your mind and help you feel calmer.

We recommend trying the box breathing technique. With this technique, start by exhaling all of the air from your lungs. Then, by breathing in through your nose, take a big belly breath, fill your lungs and abdomen and inhale for a total of four seconds. Next, hold your breath for another four seconds. And then exhale through your mouth, allowing the air to leave your lungs.

If you are not familiar with box breathing, it may take a few tries to get used to it. However, there are plenty of benefits that make it worth it! Box breathing is proven to regulate involuntary body functions and regulate your nervous system.

This is a perfect trick to try while in the dental chair or leading up to your appointment to combat any feelings of anxiety that may arise!

3. Pick a Happy Place

Before your appointment, choose a “happy place.” Your happy place may be somewhere you dream of visiting, like a peaceful cabin in the woods or a relaxing day on a secluded beach. Or your happy place may be a concert you went to with friends, your favorite family vacation, or a different funny and positive memory.

Wherever it is you may choose, keep that visual in the forefront of your mind. As you sit in the dental chair, bring yourself to your happy place to keep your mind calm and relaxed. This guided imagery will help you visualize positive thoughts to ensure you have a positive mind.

4. Have a Distraction

Prior to going to the dentist, confirm with the office that they will allow you to bring headphones or inquire if they have televisions in the exam rooms. If headphones are permitted, download some of your favorite shows from Netflix or create a playlist of your favorite tunes.

Not only will these outside distractions help eliminate any of the familiar dental noises, but they will also help eliminate any anxiety.

5. Pick the Right Dentist

At Neal C. Green D.D.S. Inc., our motto is: “We Cater to Cowards.” Our goal is to assist the people in the Santa Clarita and Antelope Valley communities to overcome their fear of the dentist. While dentistry is our profession, people are our focus. Contact us online or call us at (661) 218-2786 to schedule your appointment today.

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