How to Tackle Dental Anxiety

Many people feel a little stressed about visiting the dentist, but true dental anxiety is different. You might feel tense or have trouble sleeping the night before a dentist appointment. Your nervousness may escalate while you’re in the waiting room, and the sight of dental instruments in the exam room increases your anxiety even more.

If these feelings sound all too familiar, now’s the time to tackle your dental anxiety. Otherwise, you might use your fear as an excuse to cancel appointments, which could put your oral health at risk. Work with your dentist to overcome your anxious feelings, and you’ll be well on your way to healthier teeth and gums.

Tell your dentist about your apprehension

As many as 40 million Americans experience dental anxiety, so you’re certainly not alone. When you set an appointment at Zen Dental Center, let us know you’re feeling nervous. We’ll answer your questions and set your mind at ease about your upcoming dental exam or cleaning.

Bring a friend or family member with you

There’s nothing childish about wanting moral support at the dentist. Schedule an appointment back-to-back with your significant other, so you can go together, or ask another friend or family member to accompany you.

Discuss pain control techniques

Fear of pain and traumatic experiences in the past are two common reasons for dental anxiety. Fortunately, advancements in “pain-free” dentistry make it easier to get procedures done with less discomfort. Ask your dentist about:

  • Local anesthetic
  • Topical anesthetic
  • Electronic anesthetic
  • Laser drills, a more pain-free way to prepare cavities for filling
  • Nitrous oxide (laughing gas)
  • Intravenous (IV) sedation
  • General anesthesia

These pain control techniques can give you the confidence you need to set your next appointment.

Focus on your breathing

When you sit down in the big chair, think about taking slow, deep breaths. This helps keep your oxygen levels up and your stress level down.

Listen to some music

You can drown out the sound of the dental drill by listening to some tunes with headphones on. Just be prepared to pause your music any time the dentist needs to provide instructions.

Use hand signals

Since it’s difficult to talk while dental tools are in your mouth, agree upon hand signs you can use to communicate during a procedure. For instance, if you need the dentist to stop for any reason, you might raise your left hand. This helps you feel more in control during your visit.

At Zen Dental Center, we want you to feel comfortable visiting our office for routine teeth cleanings and check-ups. Many of our patients have overcome dental anxiety thanks to our friendly and experienced staff. We’re always willing to adjust the care we provide to ensure your complete comfort. To learn more about us, or to schedule an appointment with our Seattle dentist, please contact us at 206-324-1100 today.

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