Dental Despair? Four Options For Easing Anxiety At The Dentist’s Office

Being afraid or anxious about going to the dentist is nothing to be ashamed about. It's estimated that 30 to 40 million people in the United States avoid seeing the dentist due to dental anxiety or phobia. However, that doesn't mean that your anxiety has to keep you from the dentist's office. Here are a few things you can do to manage the stress and anxiety that come with dental appointments.

1. Bring A Stress Ball

Holding and squeezing a parent's hand may have helped you to calm down when visiting the doctor or dentist as a kid, and you can mimic this behavior to help manage anxiety at the dentist's office now using a stress ball. Keep a stress ball in the palm of your hand during your exam or dental work, and squeeze it whenever you begin to feel nervous or anxious. You can also squeeze the ball whenever you begin to feel pain or discomfort. As you focus on the activity you are doing with your hand, you may become less focused on what is happening during the appointment.

2. Ask For Breaks

Be honest with your dentist about your fears, and ask to take frequent breaks during your exam, cleaning, or dental work. Ask if the breaks can be set at certain intervals, such as every 5 or 10 minutes, and focus on counting down the seconds in between each break. This can help you to remain focused on something other than the appointment while also giving you the relief that comes with knowing the dental work will come to a stop, if only for a few minutes.

3. Drown Out The Noise

For some people, the sound of dental instruments can be a trigger for fear. You can drown out the noise by bringing a pair of headphones and your favorite playlist. Look for noise-canceling earbuds that won't get in the way as the dentist works, and be sure to let the staff know that you won't be able to hear during the appointment. You can work out a signal, such as a tap on the shoulder if the dentist needs to discuss something with you before proceeding with your dental work.

4. Schedule An Early Appointment

Schedule your appointment for as early in the day as possible. This can help to ensure that the office is relatively quiet and that your dentist can take as long as you need to become comfortable before any work begins. Having an early appointment also means you can spend the rest of the day recovering, which is particularly helpful if you are prone to panic attacks that require you to rest afterward.

Talk to your dentist about your fears and your plan to overcome them. By sharing your plans, your dentist can help you to remain calm so you can get the dental work you need to keep your smile healthy and looking great. To learn more, visit a website like