7 Ways to Calm Dental Anxiety and Fear of the Dentist
By: General Dentist Chris Park
Learn Ways to Calm Nerves Before a Dentist Visit
Many patients have a fear of the dentist and are looking for ways to calm down before coming in for an appointment. I know my colleagues and teams take pride in making our patients feel comfortable before, during, and after a routine cleaning or more involved procedure.
When thinking about ways to help my patients prepare for the dentist if they have dental anxiety, we came up with 7 quick tips to calm nerves before a dentist visit.
- Prepare to share your fears with your dentist. Being transparent about your fears allows your dentist to walk you through your procedure or routine cleaning in a way that is helpful to you and can calm your nerves.
- Plan ahead. Schedule an appointment on a day where you won’t be really busy or in a rush to get somewhere directly after. This allows the body an opportunity to relax.
- Watch your food and water intake. Before your appointment, avoid foods with high sugars or caffeine, as they may make you more jittery and contribute to your nerves. Instead, try something that has calming properties, like caffeine-free tea.
- Practice a deep breathing technique. Remembering to breathe is a key component to staying calm and relaxed during a procedure or routine cleaning.
- Visit your dentist regularly, avoid skipping or prolonging appointments. The fear of what could be wrong with your teeth may prevent you from feeling at ease coming to the dentist. When you see your dentist every six months, there are fewer unknowns and the process feels routine.
- Ask the doctor to explain the process with you beforehand. I always like to explain everything I am doing to my patient because I have found regardless of whether someone has dental anxiety, it has a calming effect. Just remind your care provider that this is helpful for you.
- Consider additional medication. In some cases, dentists may offer nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to patients who are anxious to allow them to relax and reduce nervousness. During larger procedures, your doctor may suggest sedation to ease nerves and make the process go more smoothly.
Every day I see multiple patients who have a fear of the dentist or have dental anxiety. In fact, fear of the dentist is actually very common. It’s important to inform your dental team of your concerns so we are aware and can make the process go more smoothly for you.
If you’re feeling insecure about your teeth or self-conscious, I like to remind my patients that my job isn’t to critique or judge your teeth or smile. My job is to provide high-quality care and expertise in order to treat any issues, making your mouth and teeth the healthiest they can be.
Dental Anxiety Treatment Options
We recognize that fear of the dentist and dental anxiety is very real. In extreme cases of dental anxiety, Dental Associates offers a few forms of sedation dentistry at different locations, and your dentist can help determine if sedation dentistry is the right choice for you.
If your fear of the dentist prevents you from seeking treatment, you may see a deteriorated oral health over time. We recommend that you see your dentist as soon as possible and work with them to determine a way to provide the care you need in a way that makes you feel most comfortable.
Our teams prioritize patients’ oral health and want to help address in a caring way that can aid in overcoming dental anxiety and fear of the dentist.