For some people, just thinking about a dental appointment causes us to feel uneasy. Maybe you’re anxious because you haven’t seen the dentist in a while and you’re afraid of what he or she will find. Or maybe you’re worried about pain.
However, delaying your dental exam will only allow whatever dental problems you already have to worsen. In the end you will probably need more procedures and those you need will be more complex which will mean spending even more time and money at the dentist’s office and ultimately experiencing more discomfort. Having routine dental examinations at least every 6 months can make going to the dentist’s office much easier for you on many levels.
Dr. Poorva Parnaik and her team at Dental Creations in Medford, NJ want to give you some tips to help you beat your fear of the dentist’s chair. Make use of these helpful hints at your next appointment to help ease your anxiety and keep your smile healthy and strong.
1. Speak up
Sometimes, just speaking your worries aloud can make them seem less dire. After all, your dentist doesn’t know you’re nervous unless you tell them.
- Talk to your dentist about your anxiety. When you schedule your appointment, let the receptionist know that dental care makes you nervous and remind the dental staff about your anxiety when you arrive. It can be helpful to share any bad experiences you may have had in the past with your dental staff, and ask for suggestions on how to cope.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Not knowing what is going to happen next can be troubling so asking your dental team to keep you informed during the treatment can be key.
- Agree on a signal that will tell your dentist you need to take a break during an exam, such as raising your hand.
- If you feel any pain even with a local anesthetic, alert your dentist immediately. Some patients may feel embarrassed about their pain tolerance or don’t want to interrupt a dentist during a procedure.
2. Distract yourself
Keeping your mind off of your dental exam might seem like a tall order when dental work makes you anxious, but there are some techniques you can use that can help you distract yourself.
- Wear headphones. If the sound of the drill makes you nervous, bring headphones so you can listen to your favorite music or audiobook.
- Keep your hands occupied by squeezing a stress ball or playing with a small handheld object, like a fidget spinner.
- Use your mind and imagine yourself relaxing at the beach or another “happy place”.
3. Use mindfulness techniques
Relaxation is a state of mind and you can achieve it if you try. Deep breathing exercises can relax tension in your muscles and relieve anxiety.
- Count your breaths. Inhale slowly and then exhale for the same count. Do this at least five times while you’re waiting for your appointment, or during breaks from treatment while you’re still in the dentist’s chair.
- Do a body scan. Focus on relaxing your muscles, one body part at a time. Begin with your head and work your way down to your toes. For example, concentrate on releasing tension starting in your forehead, then your cheeks, your neck and down the rest of your body.
Remember: Your dentist and their team are there to help you have a healthy, beautiful smile; not to harm or scare you. Sharing your fears with your dental care team can help you overcome them and begin having positive experiences with dental treatment.
If you’re in the Medford, NJ area and are looking for dental care from a team of compassionate and skilled dental professionals, contact Dr. Parnaik and Dental Creations at 609.365.0673 or schedule an appointment online today.