Whether you're an adult or child, being anxious during a visit to the dentist isn't unusual. However, knowing you aren't alone doesn't necessarily make it any easier. Learning coping skills to help ease your fears may make appointments easier to bear. No matter what personality type you are, chances are there are a variety of techniques to employ that can help ease your anxiety . Some may work right away, others may take a little longer. Don't limit yourself to the following tips, use them as a starting point on your journey of self-care.
Prior to your appointment, it's a good idea to take time and think about why you are actually fearful of the dentist. It may be preconceived notions of pain, lack of control, or uncertainty of the procedure or outcome. You may have listened to dental horror stories from well-meaning friends or colleagues. After your visit, reflect on your time and make note of whether or not your fears came to fruition. If so, it's important to be able to sit down with your dentist and discuss strategies.
Getting to know your Dentist Personally
Knowing your dentist on a personal level is beneficial due to the trust established once you build a healthy and friendly rapport. Being able to open the gates of communication is not only essential in any relationship, but it makes it easier to relay your fears. This creates an opportunity for the dentist to know where you're coming from, as well as which path to take to help calm you. Take the time to get to know your dentist, building a comfortable relationship doesn't add to fear, it helps minimize it. Going to a local dentist office, like Village Family Dental , might also help because it’s part of your community.
A relaxing way to help alleviate fear and anxiety is to learn breathing exercises. There are actually several different methods available, so it's important to try them before your visit. Belly breathing is common, it's where you inhale and let your belly expand, followed by a long exhale, letting the belly contract. Other ways are counting during the inhale for a certain number of seconds and exhaling for a couple seconds longer. Some methods have you briefly hold your breath between inhalation and exhalation.
Thinking of ways you handle stress in other situations may surprisingly work at the dentist office as well. Breathing exercises can be taken a step further with meditation or reciting mantras (in your head, of course!). Another idea is to bring along earbuds and listen to your playlist, an audiobook, a comedian, or a motivational speaker. There are some exercises available can be helpful with reducing anxiety , such as yoga . Then there is the often forgotten, fun gadget to take along - the stress ball.
You may think you are not a brave person because you don't like going to the dentist, but the fact you care enough about your oral health to make the appointment means you've overcome that first hurdle. Think about what you are afraid of and let your dentist know. Work with him or her to figure out the best path to take to alleviate your fears.
Know that it is normal and valid to be anxious, it only means you care, and so does your dentist.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.