It’s common for patients to feel dental anxiety or uneasiness before or during their dental appointments. In a recent Canadian survey, 5.5% of respondents reported being “very afraid or terrified” of dental visits, and a further 9.8% were “somewhat afraid.”
Trust and communication help lower stress
One of the most important factors in overcoming dental anxiety is good communication between you and your dentist. When you feel informed and in control throughout a visit, you’re typically less anxious.
Tips for staying calm when you visit the dentist
If you’re nervous about an upcoming dental visit, try these ways to curb your anxiety.
- Talk with your dentist and/or dental hygienist about your dental anxiety so they can explain what the procedure entails and you know what to expect. They are there to make your experience as comfortable and stress-free as possible.
- Focus on breathing regularly and slowly during dental procedures. When people are nervous, they tend to hold their breath. This decreases oxygen levels and further increases feelings of panic. Slow, regular breathing helps reduce stress levels.
- Listen to some tunes. If the sound of the drill bothers you, bring your favourite music and earphones.
- Request a numbing agent. Your dental hygienist and dentist can often apply a numbing gel or use local anesthesia to minimize pain.
- Ask about anti-anxiety medication. Some practices offer patients anti-anxiety medication to help reduce dental anxiety during the appointment. Please ask your dentist before the day of your visit about anti-anxiety medications.
- Use the chair-side TVs to watch a favourite show during your procedure. TVs are available in most exam rooms.
- Bring someone you trust to your appointment to help provide comfort and reduce dental anxiety.
- Choose a low-stress appointment time. Select a time for your dental visit when you’re less likely to be rushed or under pressure. This might mean a Saturday or an early-morning appointment.
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