Going to the dentist may be an errand you check off your list, but for some adults and children it’s an experience to dread all year long. Dental phobia is the fear of receiving dental care. This can include quick cleanings, specific surgeries, and even follow-up appointments. For these patients, a friendly smile and kind words just won’t do!
Do you suffer from dental anxiety as soon as you sit in the dental chair? Here at My Family Dentistry, we want our patients to have the most comfortable experience as possible. Before you come in for a visit, practice these 5 relaxation tips to get rid of your dentist’s office jitters:
Find a Happy Place
When you’re having a stressful day at work, do you ever visualize yourself at the beach? Just think. You’re in paradise with the wind blowing in your hair and the sound of calming ocean waves in the background. Sounds nice, right?
Before and during your dental visit, use this same visualization technique to help calm your nerves. You can concentrate on a joyful memory or anything soothing that will help you through your treatment. Find your happy place and picture it while in the dentist’s chair. Taking your attention off your dental work will make a huge difference in reducing your anxiety.
Relax Your Muscles
Stress can increase your dental fear—and we definitely don’t want that. When you’re stressed, your body can release adrenaline and other chemicals.
This can cause your breathing to speed up and your muscles to tighten. If you already feel your muscles tightening, try progressive relaxation! With this technique, tighten and relax each muscle group at a time.
Begin with your lower extremities and end with your face, abdomen, and chest. The squeezing and releasing of each muscle group will relieve tension allowing you to be in tune with your body and no longer focus on what your dentist is doing. This procedure helps with migraines, high blood pressure, stress, anxiety, and breathing.
Breathe! Breathe! Breathe!
Another relaxation tip is to try different approaches to breathing. Breathing properly can help you relax quickly within seconds. Don’t wait until the dentist is ready to begin. Go ahead and start in the dentist’s office waiting room. Here are a few breathing techniques to try:
- Deep Breathing– Also called diaphragmatic breathing. Breathe deeply through your nose and out through your mouth slowly. This will fill the body with oxygen and relax the central nervous system.
- Abdominal Breathing– Place one hand on your stomach and chest. Take a deep breath in through your nose and make sure air fills your abdominal space. Do this with about 6 to 10 breaths per minute for a full 10 minutes.
- Equal Breathing– Breathe in through your nose and count to four. Then breathe out through your nose and count to four. To reduce stress, the body needs to be balanced—and the counting is very soothing!
Listen to Music
Hearing familiar sounds can drown out the unwanted noises of your dental appointment. We will sometimes even turn on the television for patients for relaxation.
It’s understandable to have certain anxieties at the dentist. You can feel isolated, fear dental tools, or get queasy at the sound of scraping or drilling. To feel safe and secure, put headphones on and listen to your favorite jams for comfort.
Share Your Fears
Our office has a warm atmosphere and we’re here to accommodate! During your consultation, share your fears with us so we can be more aware during your dental treatment.
Sometimes even having your dentist explain your dental procedure can make you feel more comfortable. That way you can understand what will happen during your visit. This can also pinpoint which areas of your visit you fear or where your anxiety increases.
Don’t forget to practice these relaxation methods to combat your dental phobia. If you know them in advance, this can help with your discomfort. Try coming in for regular visits throughout the year. Start feeling more comfortable receiving dental treatment and leave your fears behind you.