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How to Prepare for a Dentist Appointment When You Have Dental Anxiety
March 16, 2023

Anxious patient talkin with dentist.

Visiting the dentist regularly is an essential part of maintaining good oral health. Unfortunately, for many people, the thought of going to the dentist can be daunting and, in some cases, even paralyzing.

Research shows that approximately 20% of adults in the United States experience some form of dental anxiety. The good news is that there are several strategies you can use to overcome your anxiety and make your next dentist appointment a more comfortable and less stressful experience.

Understanding Dental Anxiety

Before we dive into strategies for overcoming dental anxiety, let’s take a moment to understand what it is and why it happens.

Dental anxiety is a common form of anxiety that can range from mild to severe. It manifests with a variety of symptoms, and they can differ from person to person. These may include feeling nervous or panicked, sweating, feeling like your heart is racing, having an upset stomach, or feeling faint.

Dental anxiety can be triggered by various factors, including fear of pain, the sound of dental tools, and the feeling of loss of control.

Strategies for Overcoming Dental Anxiety

While the triggers may be unique from person to person, unfortunately, the result is often similar. People with dental anxiety tend to avoid dental appointments, which can lead to serious oral health issues down the road. Finding ways to manage your dental anxiety is essential to maintaining oral health moving forward.

Talk to Your Dentist

If you have dental anxiety, it’s essential to communicate your concerns with your dentist. Let us know what specifically causes your anxiety, and ask what we can do to help make your appointment more comfortable. We are trained to work with patients who have dental anxiety and can offer strategies to help you relax.

Choose the Right Time

Scheduling your appointment at a time when you may be less likely to feel stressed can also help. For example, if certain times of the year are more stressful at work, that may not be the best time to schedule a dental appointment. Once you have your appointment date set, do not pack the day with other obligations. This way, you won’t feel busy or rushed, which can add to your stress.

Watch What You Eat and Drink

Avoid having too much caffeine or sugar before your appointment. These choices can make you even more jittery and nervous than you would have otherwise been. Try a calming herbal tea instead.

Use Relaxation Techniques

Practicing relaxation techniques before and during your appointment can help ease anxiety. Techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and visualization can help reduce feelings of stress and promote relaxation.

Distract Yourself

Many dental offices offer distractions like TVs or music to help patients feel more comfortable. Consider bringing headphones and listening to music or an audiobook during your appointment. If you have noise-canceling headphones, they are a great choice because they can significantly reduce noise (a common trigger of dental anxiety).

Discover Laser Dentistry

Laser dentistry is an option that removes the noise and vibration of dental drills, as well as the pain associated with many dental procedures. By removing these common triggers, we hope to make your experience at the dentist more pleasant so we can help ease your dental anxiety.

Consider Sedation

In many cases, sedation may be an excellent option to help manage dental anxiety. Talk to us about sedation options, such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas), oral sedatives, or NuCalm.

Make Your Appointment

Waiting too long in between appointment can make dental anxiety even worse. The longer you wait between visits, the more you may become nervous that something is wrong. Scheduling a check-up twice a year as recommended can make seeing the dentist seem more commonplace and can help identify issues more quickly, so the need for serious interventions are less likely.

And when you call to schedule your visit, let us know about your concerns so we can work with you on ways to make your next appointment easier for you.

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