There’s nothing worse than being scared of going to the dentist. It can be a terror that keeps you away from the very person who is supposed to keep your smile healthy and beautiful. However, if you’re one of those people who suffer from dental anxiety, there are things you can do before and during your appointment to minimize your fear. Here are seven ways that might help:
- Tell your oral healthcare professional
If fear is holding you back, it’s important to talk about it with your dentist. It may help them understand what makes you so scared and how best to support you during an appointment.
In fact, dentists are trained to handle even the most sensitive cases of dental anxiety. They will take the time to discuss your fears with you and make sure that they know how much treatment is too much for you—or whether there are any treatments at all that can be done without causing too much distress.
- Do your research
One of the best ways to get over a fear of something is by learning about it. If you’re afraid of going to the dentist, do some research on what it’s like and what kind of procedures they do. That way, you’ll feel more confident in knowing what’s happening and trust that your dentist knows what he or she is doing.
- Get professional help
If your phobia of going to the dentist is dramatically interfering with your life, it may be time to get professional help. The first thing you can do is meet with a therapist or psychiatrist. These professionals can provide some much-needed psychological insight into what’s making your dental phobia worse.
- Use visualization and/or relaxation techniques before and during your appointment
Another way to help yourself relax is by using visualization techniques. These can involve imagining yourself in a relaxing place and/or doing something you enjoy, such as taking a walk on the beach or enjoying an afternoon at the spa.
If you can’t visualize yourself in any of those places, make up your own! Or, you could use guided imagery—a relaxation technique in which you give your mind instructions on how to feel more relaxed (like “I’m going to my favorite restaurant” or “I’m petting my pet dog”).
Another effective relaxation technique is deep breathing: Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold it for 4 seconds, then breathe out through your mouth for 8 seconds. This should be done slowly and deliberately 15 times or more before every appointment at the dentist’s office. Even better: Practice this regularly throughout the day so that it’s second nature when you need it most!
- Bring a friend or loved one along to support you
Bringing your friend or loved one along to support you can be helpful. On the day of the appointment, talk to your friend or loved one about how they are going to help you and what they will do if things get too hard for you.
- Listen to music
Listening to music can be a great way to distract yourself and take your mind off of the dental procedure at hand.
- Make the most of the moment
When you are anxious, your mind tends to focus on everything that can go wrong or make you feel uncomfortable. The reality is that there’s a lot more going right in this moment than wrong. Try to shift your focus from what may happen during the appointment to all of the benefits of coming here in the first place.
Dr. Winsome Henry-Ward is a pioneer of gentle dentistry and will make you feel at ease
If you have a phobia of the dentist, Dr. Henry-Ward can help. As a pioneer of gentle dentistry, she will take the time to understand you, and your needs. If you’re interested in a caring, kind, and respectful dentist experience, contact us today to book your appointment.