10 Easy Ways to Combat Dental Anxiety
Scared of going to the dentist? Wondering how to calm dental nerves?
You’re not alone!
Dental anxiety is very common and keeps Opens in a new window to an article citing this statisticmillions of people from getting the dental care they need every year.
Dental anxiety can range from mild to very severe. Most people don’t love visiting the dentist and experience a normal amount of dental nerves. For others, the experience can be downright terrifying.
No matter where you are on the spectrum, you’re probably wondering how to calm your dental nerves while getting the regular care you need to keep your smile healthy.
That’s why we’ve compiled our top 10 tips to help you combat your dental anxiety.
Try them out for your next visit and let us know what worked best for you!
1. Speak up and communicate
This is the most important tip!
Remember, dental fears are extremely common, and your dentist has likely treated thousands of patients just like you who share your anxiety.
If you let your dentist know how you feel before they start work, they can adjust their approach and treatment to minimize your discomfort.
For many people, simply taking frequent breaks and having their dentist explain each step of the process can be comforting. In some cases, sedation options may be available to help you relax.
Speaking up sounds simple enough, but many patients don’t do it out of embarrassment. There’s no need to be ashamed! Your concerns are real and valid.
At your next appointment, don’t hesitate to speak up.
Our team at Federal Way General & Laser Dentistry understands your fears and do everything we can to make your experience as comfortable, pain-free, and relaxing as possible. We take the time to listen to your needs and explain each step, so you know what to expect.
2. Use hand signals to communicate
Once you’ve let your dentist know you’re feeling anxious, agree on some easy hand signals so you can indicate when you need to take a break.
Hand signals will empower you to feel more in control during the appointment, knowing you can stop when you need to.
It will also help your dentist better understand what bothers you so they can adjust and ease off accordingly.
3. Choose a low-stress appointment time
Anxiety makes going to the dentist hard enough. Don’t add additional stress by going at a time that is inconvenient for your schedule.
Heavy traffic, rushing between obligations, and feeling frazzled going into your appointment all add to your stress levels, making your anxiety worse.
Plan your appointment for a day that isn’t jammed-pack or stress-prone. Leave plenty of time to get to our office and settle in. Arrive early, if possible.
4. Find ONE dentist you trust to cover all your needs
Trust goes a long way in helping keep your anxiety at bay. When you know what to expect, your mind will be more at ease.
Find a single dentist and office who can cover all your needs so each visit will feel familiar and comfortable.
When choosing a dentist, consider your future needs.
5. Choose a dentist who invests in advanced, modern technology
Dental technology has come a long way in the last decade, significantly improving the patient experience.
Going to a dentist who uses old technology often means more pain, more time in the chair, and more fear.
Fear of pain is a common cause of dental anxiety. That’s why our office has invested in advanced laser technology, which makes your experience virtually pain-free!
Our Opens in new tab to Solea Dental Laser’s websiteSolea Dental Laser makes it possible for us to achieve the same exceptional care without needing anesthesia, meaning NO needles, numbness, or drilling.
The Solea can be used in a wide variety of procedures, from cavity fillings to oral surgery. Best of all, procedures can be completed much faster. You’ll be out of the chair and on with your life before you know it.
6. Breathe and practice mindfulness
Calming your anxiety is sometimes as simple as taking some deep, slow breaths.
If you practice yoga, meditate, or utilize other mindfulness techniques in your daily life, you probably are already familiar with how powerful they can be.
Before your appointment, practice intentionally slowing down.
While sitting in your car or the waiting room, take a few minutes to close your eyes and breathe deeply. Do the same during breaks when you’re in the dental chair.
To breathe deeply, slowly inhale as much air as you possibly can over several seconds, pausing at the top of your inhale. Then, slowly release your breath over the same amount of time you inhaled. Repeat at least five times.
Another mindfulness technique is a full-body scan. With your eyes closed, concentrate on relaxing your muscles, one body part at a time. Start with your head and work down to your toes.
7. Distract yourself
To take your mind off what’s going on in your mouth, come prepared with something to distract yourself.
- Wear headphones and listen to calming music, an audiobook, or your favorite podcast.
- Squeeze a stress ball or play with a fidget spinner.
- Close your eyes and visualize your favorite place or a happy moment.
8. Avoid stimulating foods
You may depend on that cup of coffee or chocolate donut to start your workday, but caffeine and sugar can make your anxiety worse.
Instead, eat a small, protein-rich meal before your appointment. Protein can have a calming effect, and ensure you’re not going in hungry.
Some examples of anxiety-reducing foods include:
- Yogurt (opt for a low or no sugar version)
- Green or chamomile tea
- Almonds, cashews, and other nuts
9. Get some exercise and fresh air
Exercise is a well-known stress reliever, and even better if you can do it outside!
If you can hit the weights, catch a yoga class, or go for a run before your appointment, you’ll be better equipped to cope with your dental anxiety.
Even if you can’t get a full workout in, a brisk walk around the block can do wonders.
10. Find a dentist who works for your budget
Dental anxiety can stem from a lot of different fears, cost being one of them. If you’re wondering how to calm dental nerves, consider how budget worries may be contributing to your stress.
There are many payment options out there, even if you don’t have insurance or the treatment you need isn’t covered. Research to find a dentist who works for your budget.
If you suffer from dental anxiety, we want cost to be the least of your concerns. Our office strives to be accommodating and helpful, working with you to find a payment solution that doesn’t add extra stress to the experience.
We accept most insurance plans and offer Opens in a new tab to the in-house membership plan options pageaffordable in-house membership plans for those without insurance.
Don’t let dental anxiety stop you from getting the treatment you need and deserve
Regular dental care is critical to your overall health.
If going to the dentist scares you, the worst thing you can do is avoid the dentist altogether. Avoidance can lead to serious issues down the road, which will only make matters worse.
Dental anxiety is widespread, and you are not alone. Give these tips on how to calm dental nerves a try before your next visit, and let us know how it goes!
Wondering how to calm your dental nerves in Federal Way, WA? We’d love to help you out!
Dr. Einowski and our team pride ourselves on delivering a stress-free and pain-free experience for our patients.
As a last resort, if you’ve tried these tips and anxiety is still keeping you from getting the treatment you need, let us know. Our office offers affordable, mild sedation options that are highly effective for many patients suffering from dental anxiety.
We offer comprehensive dental services serving Federal Way, WA, and surrounding communities, including SeaTac, Des Moines, Auburn, Kent, Edgewood, and Browns Point.
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