Anxiety about going to the dentist can be crippling and for some people, can result in the postponement of regular dental check-ups or procedures. Improvements to dental technology and treatment methods mean that there is much less to be worried about today than there once was. If you’re someone who gets anxious about visiting the dentist, here’s the best way to manage your anxiety:
- Talk to your dentist about your anxiety
Despite what you might think, your dentist sees anxious patients every day and knows a thing or two about putting them at ease. One of the most pro-active things you can do is to be upfront and make your concerns known to your dentist. You’ll find that the simple act of talking about it helps relieve stress. Your dentist will also be able to reassure you about what exactly the visit will involve and talk you through every step of the way.
- Ask questions
During your visit you should feel comfortable asking questions about any of the dental tools or procedures. If there’s anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, speak up and ask about it. This will help to put your mind at ease if you know exactly what is happening.
- Agree on a cue
Before your procedure begins, discuss a cue you can use with your dentist that will act as a signal if you are becoming distressed. This will alert the dentist to how you are feeling and will be a sign for he or she to stop and check in with you. Your cue could be as simple as raising your right hand.
- Engage in positive self-talk
An excellent strategy for dealing with anything that makes you feel stressed or anxious is the practice of repeating positive mantras to yourself. This can be as easy as saying, ‘I choose to be in control of my feelings’ or ‘I am capable of this’. Our thoughts have so much power in shaping our behaviour so if you try to actively think positively about your dental visit, you’ll find that it becomes less overwhelming.
- Listen to soothing music
As you are driving to your appointment or waiting in the waiting room, listen to some soothing music on your phone or iPod. This will work wonders for calming your nerves. While you’re listening, become conscious of your breathing and try to focus on taking long and slow breaths.