Frightened woman at dentist office covered mouth with hands.

5 Tips to Overcome Dental Anxiety

While for some people a trip to the dentist is no big deal, for others it can be an anxiety-riddled experience. Dental anxiety occurs in both children and adults, affecting approximately 36 percent of the population, according to Medical Principles and Practice Journal.

People with this condition tend to feel anxious or fearful leading up to and during visits to the dentist. Anxiety may present in a number of ways, such as a racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, sweating, changes in mood, or feeling weak. Some patients may even miss scheduled appointments to avoid these symptoms.

While it isn’t always easy, there are ways to overcome dental anxiety. Check out these simple coping mechanisms for managing dental anxiety and maintaining a healthy and beautiful smile.

1. Communicate Your Concerns with Your Dentist

It’s important to remember that you are not the first person to experience dental anxiety and you certainly won’t be the last. Don’t be scared to speak to your dentist about your concerns and what particular areas of dentistry make you most nervous, such as needles. Your dentist can recommend techniques to help you feel more comfortable and relaxed during your visit.

During your procedure, don’t hesitate to ask questions. Knowing what to expect during the procedure may help calm your fears. Your dentist may also work with you to find ways to make the process easier, such as scheduling your appointment at the end of the day or prescribing an anti-anxiety medication to take directly before your visit.

2. Experiment with Relaxation Techniques

Over the years, dentists have recommended a wide variety of relaxation techniques designed to calm nervous patients and reduce anxiety before and during appointments. While not every technique will work for every patient, many people who suffer from dental anxiety find their appointments more manageable when certain techniques are used.

Deep breathing exercises can help you feel calmer and more relaxed. Distraction can also be advantageous for some patients. Watch a movie during your appointment, bring headphones and listen to music, or play with a fidget toy. Some patients also find meditation and muscle relaxation useful tools for releasing tension and staying focused.

3. Bring Along a Friend for Comfort

For people with dental anxiety, sitting in a dental chair with only dental professionals in the room can be stressful. Consider bringing a friend or family member along to your next appointment to ease this tension.

The support of a close friend or relative can help calm your mind and help you feel safe and comfortable. Ask your support person to casually talk to you during the appointment to help keep your mind focused on the conversation instead of the procedure.

4. Reward Yourself for Successful Appointments

Many people are motivated by rewards. One way to better manage dental anxiety is by planning a reward for yourself prior to your appointment. Think about something that you’ve been wanting, such as a new pair of shoes or a trip to the water park.

Throughout your dental appointment, think about your reward and use it as motivation to stay relaxed. While rewards may not eliminate your fear, they can help to frame the situation in a more positive light.

5. Ask About Sedation Dentistry

In some instances, distractions and other techniques are not enough. For patients with severe dental anxiety, sedation dentistry can help. The three main types of sedation dentistry include:

Nitrous Oxide Sedation

Otherwise known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a gas that helps patients remain relaxed during dental procedures. The patient is still conscious during the procedure but feels more relaxed.

Intravenous Sedation

Patients with moderate to severe dental anxiety can benefit from intravenous sedation. IV sedation involves a combination of pharmaceuticals delivered to the patients intravenously to calm and block pain.

Oral Sedation

In dentistry, oral sedation is the ingestion of an oral sedative. This option can be an excellent choice for patients that have an aversion to needles.

Book an Appointment at Vero Implants & Periodontics

At Vero Implants & Periodontics, we have worked with countless patients with dental anxiety. Our dentist in Vero Beach FL understands the struggles that dental anxiety can cause and offers several sedation options. To learn more, contact our Vero Beach dental office at 772.569.9700.