If thinking about seeing your dentist makes you feel anxious, you’re not alone. Whether you’re unsure about what the dentist will find or worrying about how painful it might be to treat, rest assured that many people dread dental appointments for the same reason.
However, putting off seeing your dentist will only make any potential dental issues that much worse, forcing you to spend more time, money and discomfort resolving them. Scheduling routine exams with your dentist can actually help make the entire process much easier on many levels.
Dr. Paul W. Karpovich and his team in Timonium, MD want to give you some helpful hints for conquering your fear of the dentist’s chair. Taking these steps at your next appointment can help ease your anxiety and keep your smile healthy and strong.
1. Speak up
Fears tend to become more manageable when you speak them aloud and feel confident that others are aware of and understand your feelings. If you’re feeling anxious, help us help you by letting your dental team know about your concerns. Your dentist and their team will be better able to treat you while maintaining your comfort if they know your needs in advance.
- Talk to your dentist about your anxiety. When you schedule your appointment, tell the receptionist that dental care makes you nervous and remind the dental staff about your anxiety when you arrive. It can be helpful to share any bad experiences you may have had in the past, and ask for suggestions on how to cope.
- Don’t hesitate to ask questions. The unknown can be frightening so asking your dental team to let you know what is going to happen in your treatment can help alleviate that fear.
- Agree on a signal that will tell your dentist you need to take a break during an exam, such as raising your hand.
- If you feel any pain even with a local anesthetic, tell your dentist. Some patients may feel embarrassed about their pain tolerance or don’t want to interrupt a dentist during a procedure.
2. Distract yourself
Taking your mind off the exam might seem impossible when you’re anxious, but there are some things you can do that can help you distract yourself.
- Wear headphones. If the sound of the drill makes you nervous, bring headphones so you can listen to your favorite music or audiobook.
- Keep your hands busy by squeezing a stress ball or playing with a small handheld object, like a fidget spinner.
- Use your imagination and visualize yourself relaxing at the beach or another “happy place”.
3. Use mindfulness techniques
Relaxation is a state of mind. Try deep breathing exercises to relax tension in your muscles and relieve anxiety.
- Count your breaths. Inhale slowly and then exhale for the same count. Do this at least five times while you’re waiting for your appointment, or during breaks from treatment while you’re still in the dentist’s chair.
- Do a body scan. Focus on relaxing your muscles, one body part at a time. Begin with your head and work your way down to your toes. For example, concentrate on releasing tension starting in your forehead, then your cheeks, your neck and down the rest of your body.
Remember: Your dentist and their team are here to help you have a healthier smile. They don’t want you to be afraid or to hurt you. Make sure to communicate your fears so they can help you begin having positive experiences at the dentist’s office.
If you’re in the Timonium, MD area and are looking for dental care from a team of compassionate and skilled dental professionals, contact Dr. Karpovich’s office at (410) 221-3085 or schedule an appointment online today.