6 Steps to Curing Your Fear of the Dentist

Did you know that family dentistry is one of the 10 most-trusted and ethical professions in the United States? And yet, so many of us get really nervous about dentist appointments. Some people seem to experience outright terror about visiting family dentists, perhaps from a poor experience as a child.

Whatever level of anxiety you experience about dental work, and wherever that fear came from, the following six tips can help you manage your fear of the dentist so you can enjoy pleasant, stress-free dental care.

1. Schedule Your Appointment During a Low-Stress Time

We all have certain days of the week, or certain hours of the day, where we feel more relaxed than others. So when you select an appointment time at your family dentist office, choose a time when you know you’ll be less likely to feel stressed or under pressure. This might mean an early morning or weekend appointment — whatever time you happen to feel best about.

2. Pay Attention to What You Eat Leading Up to Your Appointment

You may not have realized this, but food plays a large role in your mood and stress levels. When you’re preparing for a dentist appointment, avoid caffeine in coffee, chocolate, and soda, because it can cause you to feel jittery and ill-at-ease. Try to eat more high-protein foods, because these are known to produce a calming effect on the mind and body.

Finally, avoid anything with too much sugar in it, because sugar — like caffeine — can cause uncontrollable feelings of excitement or energy which can easily turn into nervousness or fear.

3. Share Your Fears With Dental Staff

Don’t feel silly about being nervous at the dentist. Everybody struggles with an irrational fear of some kind, and believe it or not, fear of the dentist isn’t that uncommon.

Perhaps the most important thing you should be aware of is that no family dentist wants their patients to feel uncomfortable. If you share your concerns and uneasiness with the dentist and their staff, they will be able to adapt your treatment to make it more comfortable for you. Again, don’t feel silly or self-conscious about this. Should you ever need dental implants, root canals, or some another invasive procedure, they want you to come back when you feel more at ease.

4. Listen to Calming (or Distracting) Music

If the sound of the dentist’s drill bothers you, you can request to listen to music on your smartphone or MP3 player during the procedure. Be sure and bring some minimalist earbuds, as bulky headphones could get in the way of your dentist. Listening to your favorite music on your way to the dentist, or while you’re in the waiting room, can also be a great distraction to calm your nerves.

5. Practice Deep, Slow Breathing

Have you ever noticed that when people are nervous, they tend to hold their breath?

That’s why breathing deeply, slowly, and deliberately is perhaps the single best way to control your anxiety. Holding or constricting your breath decreases the amount of oxygen getting to your brain which can increase feelings of panic. On the other hand, when you’re in a situation where your mind starts to race, taking control of your breathing by choosing to breathe slowly and intentionally gives your brain something it CAN control, which helps it feel relaxed.

If you like, you can experiment with meditation methods and practices that deal with breathing, leading up to your appointment. This will give you context and prior experience for deliberately guiding your breath.

6. Utilize Agreed-Upon Hand Signals During the Procedure

Before the dental procedure starts, agree on hand signals to use to communicate with your dentist. Let them know that you’ll give them a certain hand sign to show when you’re getting uncomfortable or staring to feel panicked, so they’ll know to take a break. This will give you a sense of empowerment or control, which will go a long way in helping your mind relax.

With these tips, going to the dentist does not have to be a scary experience. Enjoy your visit with Gainesville Dental Associates today.