Do you dread going to see the dentist? You’re not alone. Surveys estimate between 13 and 24 percent of people have some form of dental anxiety.
Fortunately, that also means people have come up with all kinds of real ways to cope with dental anxiety. Try one of these techniques the next time you’re facing the dental chair – you might just find one that works for you.
1. Laugh Before You Go In
Laughter is a proven form of stress relief. The act of laughing releases endorphins, gets your lungs to take in more oxygen-rich air, and aids muscle relaxation. Plus, it helps to take your mind off of distracting and troubling thoughts, like the ones that plague you in the waiting room.
When you head out for the dentist, bring along a pair of headphones and a laugh-out-loud TV show, audiobook or podcast on your phone. Try to have a laugh while you’re waiting to be called. This will help to prepare your mind and body for the task ahead.
2. Listen to Soothing Music
Music has a unique link to our emotions, making it a powerful stress management tool. It draws our attention away from gnawing anxiety, and can even slow our pulse, heart rate, blood pressure, and stress hormone levels.
Many dentists have caught onto this, and give patients the option of listening to soothing sounds while they’re in the chair. If that’s not available, ask your dentist whether you can listen to your own favourite tunes on your phone or mp3 player. This small effort can make a big difference in your stress level.
3. Ask Questions
Wait…what’s that tool for? Why’s it making that sound? Is this going to hurt?
For many people, fear of the unknown is a big part of dental anxiety. While we usually know what to expect from an appointment in general, the details are often a mystery until it’s well underway.
If you’re one to fret about dental work, it’s worth taking the time to ask the dental hygienist or dentist for more information. Knowing exactly what to expect can take a huge weight off your shoulders. A good provider will know it’s worth the extra few minutes.