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I went to the dentist this week. And I will admit, I was quite nervous. I had to hold it together as I was with my 2 year old. She enjoyed her visit I think, and I came out wondering why I had been so anxious. But I realised that am not alone in being anxious at a dental appointment. Statistics say that almost half of UK adults are scared of the dentist, and 12% of those that are anxious suffer from a real phobia. A lot of people are very scared of the whole dental experience. So, here are 10 ways how to be less anxious at the dentist.
*This post has been updated – it was first published in August 2018
10 Ways How To Be Less Anxious at the Dentist
1. Get there on time
Nothing is worse for anxiety than rushing and knowing that you are late. First of all, If you are visiting somewhere for the first time scout it out beforehand. Then you will know exactly where you are heading, and will be able to give yourself plenty of time. It is better to be 20 minutes early than 5 minutes late.
2. Have a book to read in case they run late.
This often does happen, so take a book or magazine. Or play a game on your phone, because this helps to take your mind off what you are about to do.
3. Take some music
And also some headphones. This can help to reduce the noise or the drill, if that is what puts you off. Do arrange with the dentist before you put your EarPods in what the signal to stop is though.
4. Hold a friend’s hand
Sometimes having a friend or partner there can really help.
5. Practice self hypnosis or meditation
Try and distance yourself from the whole experience using deep breathing and picturing yourself being in more pleasant surroundings. For instance, imagine that you are on a beach or in a tranquil forest.
6. Find a sympathetic dentist
If you ask friends and relatives, you will very likely find someone amongst them who is also anxious. Maybe they can recommend a good dentist in the area? At the end of the day, if a dentist has been recommended by a fellow anxious patient, that dentist is probably going to be a good choice.
It may help to work out exactly what you are scared of. It could be injections? Maybe it is drilling? Perhaps you had a bad experience as a child? Do write a list and discuss these fears with your dentist. Also ask all the questions that you need to. They will listen and be able to tailor your treatment around your anxieties. Arrange a signal that you will use to tell the dentist to stop if you need a break during the treatment.
7. Think Positive
Try not to think negative thoughts. Most dental problems can be sorted painlessly. And even if you do know that you need lots of treatment, this can be done in lots of small steps if you wish.
8. Go regularly
The hardest step is the first step in meeting a new dentist. Once you have met and built a trust with someone, it is important to go regularly and maintain your healthy mouth. As a result, if you go regularly your future visits should mainly be just examinations and/or routine cleaning.
9. Look after your teeth and gums
Do brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, and use floss or brushes to clean between the teeth regularly too. Don’t eat too much sugar between meals. And don’t smoke or chew tobacco. It is important to say that there is a lot of evidence linking poor mouth health with lots of other health conditions. So looking after your teeth is part of looking after yourself as a whole.
10. If you do panic or faint, don’t give up or be hard on yourself
Remember – you are not alone in your fear. Do not berate yourself, be angry with yourself or think that it is stupid to feel the way that you do. It really is a common phobia, and by even visiting a dentist you are making brilliant progress at facing your fears.
I am sure that if you use all these tips that you will find that you become less anxious at dental visits. Do reward yourself after your visit, that way it becomes a more positive experience.
I would love to hear your comments about how these 10 ways how to be less anxious at the dentist work for you. Or if you have any other ideas I would love to hear them
Or does your child have a dental phobia? read 10 Ways To Help Your Child Not Be Anxious At The Dentist
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