When you think about sitting in a dental chair, do you start grinding your teeth and worrying about what’s to come? Dental anxiety is a common problem for both adults and children. It can leave you dreading your next dental treatment, even if you know that it’s completely necessary.
The good news is that there are lots of things you can do to manage your dental procedure anxiety and minimize the fear of the dentist and their tools. Going to the dentist can become a routine part of your life when you utilize some of the following tips to reduce dental phobia:
Bring Comfort Items
Many people head to their local dental clinic without thinking of what they can do to make themselves more comfortable. If you fear sitting down in the dental chair, start analyzing why you have anxiety and what you can do to eliminate it.
For example, many people hate the sound of the tools dentists use. Eliminate the sounds by watching television, streaming your favourite show on your phone, or listening to music through your earbuds. Some people prefer to escape into the pages of a good book, so you may decide to bring along the latest mystery that keeps your mind occupied.
If you need a few more touches of home, consider bringing your favourite blanket or letting your child bring a beloved stuffed animal.
Take Someone With You
Severe dental anxiety might keep you away from the dentist for long periods of time. One way to ensure that you make it to your dental appointment is to enlist the help of someone else. If you know that a friend or family member is expecting you to pick them up to go to your appointment, you’re more likely to actually make it through the door.
Going to the dentist can be a fun social event for you instead of just anxiety-producing. Your companion can tell jokes and stories while you’re getting dental work done, so choose someone upbeat and lively.
Even if you’ve never tried meditation before, dental fear can bring you a new appreciation for this simple technique. The goal of meditation is to let go of your thoughts and feelings. As each new thought rises to the surface, you can picture it floating away in a fluffy white cloud.
Thoughts are neither good nor bad. They are simply things to be noticed.
Progressive relaxation techniques are also great tools to use as part of your meditative practice. Starting with your feet, consciously relax every part of your body, moving as slowly as you can.
If you don’t think you can focus on these exercises completely on your own, then you may want to listen to a recorded meditation through your headphones. Don’t worry—your dentist won’t mind that you’re trying to keep yourself calm by tuning them out!
At a certain point, your anxiety or phobia of dealing with the dentist may be overwhelming. Talk with your provider beforehand about taking some short breaks interspersed with your overall treatment. You might decide to take a break every ten minutes or so just to keep your anxiety levels under control.
Alternatively, you could work out a signal to your dentist that you need a break without ever having to say a word. Simply raise a hand or a finger to let them know that this is becoming too much for you.
During your break, practice deep breathing to calm your nerves and keep you in the chair. Some people may even find it helpful to get up and do some jumping jacks to relieve some of their nervous energy. Do what you need to do to make it back into the dental chair.
Of course, some people really need more than these tips for managing dental anxiety. With new treatment options available, you can have a more comfortable dental visit. Our dental team at Dental House offers two options for conscious sedation that can make you feel calmer and more at ease.
Nitrous oxide is one option, more commonly referred to as laughing gas. This is the mildest type of sedation which can be quickly adjusted to your comfort level. Before you leave the office, the laughing gas is flushed out of your system with pure oxygen, so you’ll be able to drive yourself home.
On the other hand, we may also administer some anxiety-relieving medication in pill form before you come into the office. This is still conscious sedation, though you may feel a little sleepy by the time you make it to your dental appointments. These are great for severe anxiety, but you’ll need to bring someone with you who can drive to the dental clinic.
Other forms of sedation include IV sedation (deep sedation) and general anesthesia (unconscious sedation). However, these are very rarely used in a standard dentist’s office. You’re more likely to be offered conscious sedation like nitrous oxide or anxiety-relieving medications.
It’s important to note that you may have more risk of issues with your oral health if left untreated than the potential side effects of these sedation options. Be sure to talk with your dentist beforehand to determine what is right for you.
Contact Our Dental Office for Experts in Anxiety
Even if you don’t have anxiety disorders like those listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, you may still have a fear of the dentist. Dental anxiety affects your body in unique ways, putting you on edge and making it less likely that you’ll go to the dentist regularly. As a result, you may see more gum disease and cavities, and you may ultimately require more dental care.
If you need the best dentist in Saskatoon, Dental House offers a great option for taking care of both your oral health and your mental health. Let us know how you’re feeling, and we can help you alleviate stress in several ways to make your experience more pleasant!