As the New Year unfolds, it’s the perfect time to embrace resolutions that promote self-improvement and improved overall health. Visiting the dentist for regular dental checkups is one of the best ways to keep your smile in good condition. However, you could be one of the many people who struggle with dental fears that lead you to avoid the dentist. The good news is that with a proactive approach and a few mindful choices, you can overcome your dental anxiety. We wanted to share a few strategies to help you navigate the path to a stress-free dental experience:
- Practice Relaxation Techniques
Techniques like deep breathing, guided imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation help activate your body’s relaxation response. Make it a regular habit to spend about ten minutes a day doing these exercises at home so they become second nature. Eventually, you’ll train your body to remain relaxed, even in circumstances that typically cause anxiety like a dental appointment.
- Talk Openly About Your Anxiety
Speaking honestly with our dental team about your dental anxiety is so important. We want you to feel comfortable, so we can offer accommodations to help you relax. Let us know what specific things worry you so we can walk you through them or help you avoid triggers when possible. We even have blankets and pillows available to help you feel comfortable, if you’d like a better sense of home.
- Optimize Comfort During Visits
Another way to dial down anxiety is to make your dental visit as pleasant as possible. You can bring headphones, so you can listen to your favorite music. We also have music and TVs you can listen to or watch during your appointment. We encourage you to bring a trusted friend or family member to come with you for moral support. You can also schedule your appointment during a time that’s the quietest. Be sure to ask our staff for details about the ideal time frame for your visit.
- Consider Oral Sedation
If you need extra help to feel calm, we have oral sedation available. You’ll take this medication before appointments. It will help you relax, but doesn’t put you fully asleep. It’s safe when administered by our trained professionals and prevents you from increasing your anxiety before your visit. You will need to arrange for a ride home after your appointment due to its lingering effects.
- Schedule Something Fun Afterward
Finally, plan something enjoyable for immediately following your appointment, like going out for coffee with a friend or to see a funny movie. Having a pleasant event to look forward to helps motivate you to get through your visit. Once your appointment is over, you can focus on your reward to end the experience on a high note. Over time, you may find your dental anxiety subsides.
By trying these suggestions, you can enter into the new year with a mission to overcome your dental anxiety. Caring for your oral health and overcoming your fear will empower you to take control of your overall health and well-being.