About 36% of the population will begin feeling their palms sweat when they walk into the dental office, even for a routine dental cleaning. An additional 12% of the population experiences extreme fear that might prevent them from seeking care.
At Brentwood Dental Spa, we always have dental anxiety at the forefront of our minds. We’ve gone out of our way to create a comfortable, calming atmosphere where patients can relax, knowing they’re in the most qualified hands. Whether you need a cleaning or a cosmetic procedure, our talented, thoughtful professionals will do all they can to make you feel at ease.
Have you let fear get in the way of sporting your brightest smile?
We’ve created this guide to help you prepare for the dentist, even if you’ve had difficult experiences at other offices in the past. Keep reading to learn about eight ways to curb anxiety before you go to the dentist.
1. Tour the Office in Advance
The human brain is great at fabricating scenarios. If you don’t have enough concrete information to complete a mental picture or story, your brain will use the information it has to fill in the blanks. Professionals call this “fabulation.”
The best way to prevent fabulation from taking over is to give your brain all the information it needs. One way to do this is to visit the office where you’ve scheduled your dental appointment. Take a short tour, meet the staff, and give your brain time to absorb the truth about what you’ll be experiencing.
The environment at Brentwood Dental Spa is so relaxing that, once you’ve seen it, you won’t be able to imagine it any other way.
2. Communicate With Your Dentist
If you have a history of anxiety at the dentist’s office, one of the best things to do is to let your dentist know! The professionals at Brentwood Dental Spa have experience treating anxious patients and will know how to put your mind at ease.
Often, this means explaining what they’ll do before it happens, including describing any sensations that you might experience. Your dentist can also let you know how long they anticipate that certain procedures will last. For some patients, a little bit of relaxing conversation during treatment is all it takes!
Expressing your needs is the best and clearest way to ensure that they’re met. When your dentist is empathetic and kind, they will be happy to help.
3. Agree on a Non-verbal Signal
It is common for patients with dental anxiety to put off an appointment even if they suspect that they have developed tooth problems. Thus, the care that anxious patients need might be more involved. Patients might fear discomfort during the procedure.
If you are having anxiety about pain during your appointment, speak to your dentist and agree on a signal before you begin. This will be an unspoken cue that you’re feeling uncomfortable and need a break.
Putting this system in place doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll need it! Our dentists are gentle and will do all they can to keep you comfortable throughout your appointment. Even so, many patients feel better knowing that a system is in place.
4. Make a Plan for After the Appointment
Likewise, many patients may be nervous because they’re anticipating pain after an appointment. Foremost, always call the office and ask if your dentist suggests that you take an over-the-counter painkiller before you arrive. This can help keep you comfortable long after you’ve left the office.
Furthermore, it can be helpful to take the rest of the day off and plan to relax. Make a mental plan to watch a favorite movie or show. You might even pick up some ice cream so you’ll have something sweet to look forward to!
5. Speak to a Satisfied Patient
If you were nervous about making a big purchase, you’d go online and read the product reviews. If you’re nervous about seeking a dentist for the first time, why not speak to their patients? Success stories can help put your mind at ease, especially from the mouths of other patients with dental anxiety!
6. Bring Your Own Distraction
Even if an office has all sorts of technology, sometimes you still need a touch of home. Feel free to bring your own music and headphones and control the playlist in the waiting room – or even during your procedure! Having some extra control during an anxiety-inducing situation can add a sense of calm and provide a positive distraction.
7. Use Your Favorite Relaxation Technique
Relaxation techniques that help with all forms of anxiety can work on your dental anxiety, too! Deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness, and visualization all help when patients start to feel nervous.
If you don’t currently use any of these techniques, you might consider trying a few leading up to your appointment. There are plenty of free meditation podcasts and online videos that can get you started. These simple tools can help ground you and mitigate your body’s natural responses to stress.
8. Be Proactive About Appointments
Sometimes the thing that keeps you from going to the dentist is the fear of making the appointment! Once you’ve gotten over that hurdle, it’s just a matter of showing up. Be brave, make your first appointment, and the rest will be much easier.
We suggest making your next appointment in person, so it’s harder to put off. Book your next visit or cleaning before you head out the door. Once you’ve experienced our superlative service, you’ll be eager to come back anyway!
Don’t Let Dental Anxiety Dull Your Smile
If you have put off dental appointments because you’re scared of the dentist, you are not the only one! There is no reason to let dental anxiety keep you from getting the care you need. Put these tips into practice, and you’re sure to leave your appointment grinning!
The first step is to make that appointment in the first place! We can’t wait to welcome you into the Brentwood Dental Spa family. Reach out today to ensure a life-changing smile tomorrow!