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Fear of the Dentist: Managing Dental Anxiety

fear of the dentistFear of the dentist or anxiety about dental procedures is a common problem, so if you’ve been putting off your dental appointment, know that you are not alone. Wooddell & Passaro Restorative and Esthetic Dentistry has treated patients with fear of the dentist and has some tips about dealing with it and achieving the smile you deserve.

1. Speak up

You will not be the first patient your hygienist or dentist has seen with dental anxiety, so you shouldn’t be embarrassed about speaking up. Your provider can help you if they know how you’re feeling, so let them know that you are anxious about being there.

The unknown can be frightening, especially if you worry about pain or discomfort, so don’t hesitate to ask questions. If you know what to expect, you might find it easier to deal with, or it wasn’t as bad as you thought it was going to be. You should also never feel embarrassed about feeling pain even with a local anesthetic or needing a break. Your dentist can administer additional anesthetic or give you a few minutes to rest before continuing the procedure.

2. Distract yourself

Some patients with fear of the dentist say that distractions help during cleanings or procedures. For example, if the sound of the drill makes you nervous, bring headphones and listen to music, an audiobook, or a podcast. You could also bring something to keep your hands busy like a fidget spinner or stress ball. Many adult patients find that distractions make treatment much easier.

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 Davidsonville, MD area and are looking for dental care from a team of compassionate and skilled dental professionals, contact Wooddell & Passaro Restorative and Esthetic Dentistry at (410) 343-7075 or schedule an appointment online today.