Anxiety is often the way we react when our bodies or minds experience stress. For some, a simple trip to the dentist can paralyze them with fear. If you know that you struggle to stay calm at the dentist, read on to learn about four ways to combat this issue.
1. Communicate with Your Dentist
This communication should take place before you ever get into the dental chair. Research dentists and decide on one that you can trust. Make sure you feel comfortable talking about your anxiety with your dentist, and that he or she can respond in a helpful way. This will help you feel less anxious before you ever step into the dental office. Next, communicate your preferences to your dentist. You may want to ask him or her to tell you more about the procedure. When you know what to expect, you’ll be much more able to deal with any pain or discomfort. However, if you prefer not to hear about the procedure or not to see the dental tools, let your dentist know. Whatever your preferences, talk to your dentist about them. You’ll feel much better knowing your dentist understands your wishes, rather than expecting him or her to read your mind.
2. Use Simple Self-Help Hacks
The mind has a great power to enhance or ignore pain. As you are in charge of your body and mind, you have the most power to adjust this perspective. When you arrive at the dental office, take some slow, deep breaths. This automatically helps your body register that you are safe and healthy. Press your palms together to “reboot” your nervous system, focusing on slow and relaxed breathing. Visualizations and thinking of something pleasant can lend immense help, too. As you wait for your procedure or cleaning, visualize having a painless appointment. If it’s better to avoid thinking about the situation altogether, imagine yourself in a place where you are comfortable, relaxed, and happy. Music also has powerful effects on the mind. Bring your own headphones with a calming playlist to help keep your mind off of any discomfort. This will help you maintain calmness before, during, and after the appointment.
3. Opt for Analgesics and Anesthesia
The only pain you should experience at the dentist is feeling a shot of Novocain. The dental hygienist or dentist can even numb this pain by applying a topical numbing agent first. Make it clear to the staff that you would appreciate this option, if it’s available. Experiencing sensations during any dental extraction or procedure shouldn’t happen. Some people metabolize numbing analgesics faster than others, so pay attention to your body. As soon as you begin to regain any sort of feeling, raise your hand to signal your dentist to stop. Some offices provide inhalation and IV sedation, so talk with your dentist about these options, too. It’s best to try to manage your anxiety in more natural ways, but drugs can also help you stay calm and pain-free.
4. Let Your Body Recover
Your dentist won’t send you home without necessary pain medication. Still, you should discuss pain management techniques to boost your confidence as you leave. Ask about what you can eat or drink, what to expect in the next couple hours, and what problems to watch for. After extractions or similar procedures, it’s a good idea to rinse your mouth with salt water. Swelling and infection are common sources of pain, and a salt water rinse will minimize your risk of experiencing either one. Remember to take it slow. Your body needs time to adjust and heal, so be patient. Stick to easy-to-eat foods and drink plenty of fluids. Getting enough rest will also help you recover. Talk with your dentist about anxiety so you can work together to ease or resolve such issues. If you use these tips, you’ll have more positive experiences to boost your confidence and comfort for the future.