7 tips for nervous dental patients

It is estimated that between 5 and 8 percent of Americans don’t go to the dentist out of fear and another 20% only go when absolutely necessary.

Here are some facts when trying to conquer dental anxiety.

Communicate your fear with your dentist.  Do not be self-conscious about communicating your dental anxiety.  Unless patients voice their fears, dentists and hygienists can’t help make your appointments more pleasant for you.  Even though modern dentistry has improved and makes dental work more comfortable, surveys show that the average person feels as much anxiety about going to the dentist as they did 50 years ago.  This can lead to a vicious cycle: People are scared of going to the dentist so they postpone or put off making appointments altogether.  Inevitably, this approach leads to bigger, more costly and, potentially, more painful problems down the road.  However, here are some easy methods anyone can try to make visits to the dentist less stressful and more pleasant.

Listen to Music.  We have headphones, and you can listen to the choice of 5 different stations, or please feel free to bring in your own MP3 player and listen to your favorite music or podcast.  Simply blocking out the noise and listen to something you enjoy can make a huge difference.

Breathe deeply.  Using slow, deep breaths and closing your eyes and visualizing a favorite place or people you love help overcome fear and anxiety.

Communicate.  Don’t “Suffer in silence”.  Decide on a hand signal such as raising your hand that will alert your dentist or hygienist that a procedure is uncomfortable or that you need a break.  Most people feel more relaxed when they feel in control of the process.

No question is too basic for your dentist.  You can ask about what instruments they are going to use, how long the procedure will take, and what it is going to feel like.

Eat a light meal before your appointment.  It’s important to have something in your stomach when you are having dental work done because hunger can increase the body’s stress response.  People with blood sugar issues need to be particularly mindful so they don’t feel light headed or even faint.  Also, if you procedure requires Novocain, you might not be able to eat for a few hours after, while the numbing effects wear off.  However, don’t eat a large heavy meal.  It might make you feel nauseous during certain types of procedures.

Request a topical anesthetic.  Numbing gels properly applied can make oral injections virtually pain-free.

This entry was posted in Dental Tips and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.