Between 9 and 20 percent of people in the US have dental anxiety. The anxiety can come from fear of pain or injections, embarrassment, or fear that the dentist will find something bad. Failing to address dental anxiety can lead to poor oral health.
Here are 5 ways you can reduce anxiety at the dentist:
1. Find a Dentist Through Recommendations
Finding a dentist that is recommended by your friends and family will help ease dental anxiety. Your friends and family are likely to recommend a dentist that is knowledgeable, gentle, patient, and trustworthy. The more trust you have in your dentist, the less anxiety you will experience.
2. Eat a Healthy Meal Before Your Appointment
There is a clear relationship between what you eat and your state of mind. Thus, it is important to eat a balanced diet with high quality, nutrient-dense carbohydrates, fats, and proteins before your appointment. Avoid caffeine and processed and sugary food before your dental appointment as these foods can fuel your anxiety and impair the body's ability to cope with stress.
3. Communicate With Your Dentist
Be open with your dentist about your fears and don't be afraid to ask questions. If you experience pain at any time during the treatment, let the dentist know to take a break or add more local anesthetic. You can also agree with your dentist on a few hand gestures in case you need to stop at any point during the procedure. The more you communicate with your dentist, the more in control you will be and the less anxious you will feel.
4. Listen to Music or an Audiobook
The sound of the drill can be bothersome and fuel anxiety. You can distract yourself by wearing headphones and listening to your favorite music or an audiobook. Focusing on something other than your anxiety can be extremely helpful.
5. Breathe Slowly and Regularly
When people get nervous, they tend to hold or quiet their breath until the reason for their stress has passed. Calming yourself down will bring an end to this stress response. You can help yourself relax by focusing on taking slow, regular, deep breaths before your appointment and while you are sitting in the dental chair.