If just thinking about sitting in the dentist’s chair makes you break out in a cold sweat, you’re not alone. Maybe you haven’t been in a while and you’re unsure what the dentist will find. Perhaps you’re worried that whatever procedure is needed may be painful or make you feel overwhelmed.
However, waiting to see the dentist will only make whatever dental problems you may be having worse and cause you to spend more time, money and discomfort. Scheduling routine visits with your dentist every 6 months can actually help make the entire process much easier on many levels.
Dr. Ken Schweifler and his health-centered dentistry team in Los Altos, CA want to provide you with some tips to help you conquer your fear of the dentist’s chair. Use these helpful hints at your next appointment to help ease your fears so you can keep your smile beautiful, healthy and strong.
1. Speak up
Fears tend to seem less overwhelming when you speak them aloud and knowing that others are aware of your feelings and are taking them into account can be very comforting. If you’re feeling anxious, help us, better help you by letting your dental team know about your concerns. Your dentist and their team can help you feel more comfortable if they know what’s bothering you.
- Inform your dentist about your dental anxiety. When you schedule your appointment, tell the receptionist that dental care makes you nervous and also remind the dental staff about your anxiety when you arrive. It may be helpful to share any bad experiences you may have had in the past, and ask for suggestions on how to cope. Many dentists have helped other patients overcome similar obstacles in the past
- Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Sometimes the scariest part can be not knowing what is going to happen next. Your dental team can inform you step by step to help you alleviate this anxiety.
- Agree on a signal that will tell your dentist you need to take a break during an exam or procedure, such as raising your hand.
- If you feel any pain even with a local anesthetic, inform your dentist immediately. Some patients may feel embarrassed about their pain tolerance or don’t want to interrupt a dentist during a procedure but your dentist always wants you to be comfortable.
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. Bring a stress ball or a small handheld object, like a fidget spinner to play with during your treatment.
- Use your imagination and visualize yourself at the beach or another “happy place” that you personally find relaxing.
3. Use mindfulness techniques
Relaxation is a state of mind. You can try deep breathing exercises to relax tension in your muscles and relieve anxiety while in the dentist’s chair.
- Count your breaths. Inhale slowly and then exhale for the same count. Repeat 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 all the way down your body 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 want to help you have a healthy and beautiful smile. The last thing they want is to harm or scare you. Make sure to communicate your fears so your dentist can help you start having positive experiences at the dentist’s office.
If you’re in the Los Altos, CA area and are looking for dental care from a team of compassionate and skilled dental professionals, contact Dr. Schweifler at (650) 489-4620 or schedule an appointment online today.