Reducing Dental Fear and Anxiety
Are you afraid of going to the dentist? Well, if you are, you’re not alone. According to the results of an American Association of Endodontics survey, 80% of Americans have some fear of the dentist (source: J of Conservative Dentistry 2009 12:85-6). While it can be a relief to know that fear of the dentist is common, dental fear or anxiety doesn’t have to be something a patient is forced to live
with. In fact, there are several ways to mitigate the fear associated with dental visits.
Finding a dental office with a caring dental team (not just the dentist, but every staff member that you come in contact with) is an important first step. Many times, fear is caused by the unknown so having a knowledgeable and caring dental team that you feel comfortable sharing your questions and concerns with and that you are able to have a trusting relationship with is crucial.
Simple distractions during the dental visit can help reduce anxiety. Create of playlist of some of your favorite (calming) music on an mp3 player and then wear headphones during your appointment. Find a dentist who plays movies or favorite shows for their patients during appointments.
Utilize relaxation techniques before and during the dental visit. For instance, visualize a relaxing setting and take yourself there to refocus your attention away from your appointment. Or focus on your breathing with the goal to make it slow down and relax which in turn can reduce tension in the body.
Request a blanket, and close your eyes or wear tinted glasses provided by your dental team.
Let the dentist know if you feel any discomfort during the treatment. A caring dentist does not want their patient to feel and endure discomfort during treatment and will take necessary measures to ensure your comfort.
There are also medications that may be recommended to help you relax during dental treatment. One option is nitrous oxide (otherwise know as laughing gas). Another option that may be recommended is oral conscious sedation medication.
After following these guidelines, eventually you may even look forward to visiting the dentist.
For more information on relaxation techniques, visit
The National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine.