Easing Dental Anxiety: Coping Methods that Can Help

Easing Dental Anxiety: Coping Methods that Can Help

Posted by Smyrna Dental Group Feb 28, 2023

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Dental phobia or dental anxiety is the extreme fear of visiting a dentist. Dental anxiety can occur from a bad experience as a child or seeing a family member or friend experience a traumatic dental procedure.

Discuss your fears with your dentist

Before your appointment, discuss your fears and anxiety with your dentist in detail. The dentist will understand your discomfort and work to make your treatment more comfortable for you.

If there is a particular procedure that you fear the most, like tooth extraction or root canal therapy, let your dentist know about it. Your dentist may recommend a more effective alternative method or prescribe medications to help you relax before the procedure. Some dentists may even offer sedation techniques to calm patients' nerves and help them get through their procedure with ease.

Agree on a signal

When visiting the dentist, you may feel anxious or fearful. To help cope with this fear, agree on a signal with the office so they will know when you may need a break. Simply raise your hand to indicate that you need more information or want to take a break. Your dentist will likely give you more time, if necessary, after using the sign. Some patients also like to bring a friend or relative with them to the appointment to support and encourage them during the procedure.

Take a friend or family member with you for emotional support

If fear of going to the dentist is stopping you from undergoing recommended treatments, ask your dentist if you can bring a support person to the appointment. They can help you overcome your fear by soothing you and keeping your attention off of what's happening in the treatment room. Your dentist may also be open to having you come back for a second visit alone with him or her after you've had some practice at seeing them without someone by your side.

Bring distractions to occupy your mind during procedures

If you are scared of dental procedures, here are a few things that you can do to help alleviate your anxiety:

  • You can bring your smartphone or a tablet to play music or videos during your procedure. There are also audiobooks available for download on these devices.
  • You can also bring some earbuds so you can play your own playlist of relaxing songs.
  • You can also bring a magazine or a paperback book to read. This can help you relax during the procedure.
  • You can even bring along some stress balls to squeeze while your dentist works on your teeth. This can distract you from the sounds and sights of the dental office. 
  • Guided imagery exercises are also a popular option for those who enjoy guided meditations. These relaxation techniques can calm your nerves and distract you from what's going on around you.

Consider sedation dentistry

Sedation dentistry allows you to undergo dental procedures without experiencing extreme fear or anxiety. It is very effective, and patients report that they are relaxed throughout their treatment. Sedatives can be given orally or through IV. Oral sedatives are usually taken in the form of a pill about an hour before the treatment, whereas IV sedatives are administered through an injection. Patients can go home once the effects of the sedative wear off.

Most patients who opt for sedation dentistry are those who have a complex procedure that needs multiple visits, those who have a strong gag reflex, and those who experience severe dental fear. Talk to your dentist to see if this is an option for you.

If you are interested in learning more about our services, call Smyrna Dental Group in Smyrna, TN, at (615) 355-6800 to schedule an appointment with our dentists or request an appointment online.

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