Coping with Dental Anxiety


For many people, the thought of going to the dentist causes worry and stress. Maybe you've had a painful experience in the past. Maybe you're scared of what it will take to fix a cavity or other problem. But it's not good to avoid the dentist. Delaying or skipping visits lets small problems turn into big ones. So use these tips to control your fear.


When you make your appointment, tell your dentist about your anxiety. Be open and honest. Tell the dental staff that you are afraid. If you've had a bad experience in the past, let them know about it. Ask questions. Ask your dentist to explain everything before and during your procedure. Being informed can help ease your fears.


Concentrate on your breathing. Before your procedure begins, inhale slowly while counting, then exhale for the same number of counts. Do this five times. This will help relax you. Do this again when there are breaks in the procedure.


During your procedure, your dentist will make sure you are numb and comfortable. If you feel pain, tell your dentist immediately. Agree to a signal so you can let your dentist know to stop or let you take a short break if you need one.


If the sound of a dental drill bothers you, ask your dentist if you can wear headphones. Squeeze a stress ball, or play with a fidget device. These distractions help lower your stress level. You can also do a "body scan." That's a mental exercise. You focus on each part of your body, one section at a time, relaxing your muscles from your head down to your toes.


If you try these methods and you still feel overwhelming anxiety or fear, tell your dentist. There are many options for making sure your dental visits are free of pain and stress. Your dentist will create a care plan that's right for you.