Sedation dentistry can be a good option for patients dealing with dental anxiety, but Dr. Richard Sousa and his team of dentists at East Hills Dental Associates in Roslyn Heights NY have advice for patients who don’t want to be sedated. Dental anxiety is a common phenomenon, and you should never feel ashamed of requesting sedation dentistry or putting off dental care due to fear of the dentist. Here are 3 of our team’s best tips for managing and overcoming dental anxiety so you can get the dental care you deserve from a dentist you can trust.
1. Ask for help overcoming dental anxiety
Fears tend to become less powerful when you speak them aloud and knowing that others are aware of your feelings and understand can be very comforting. If you’re feeling anxious, do yourself a favor and let us know your concerns.
- Talk to your dentist about your anxiety. When you schedule your appointment, tell the receptionist that dental care makes you nervous and remind the dental staff about your anxiety when you arrive. It can be helpful to share any bad experiences you may have had in the past, and ask for suggestions on how to cope.
- Don’t hesitate to ask questions. The unknown can be frightening, so asking what is going to happen in your treatment can help alleviate that fear.
- Agree on a signal that will tell your dentist you need to take a break during an exam, such as raising your hand.
- If you feel any pain even with a local anesthetic, tell your dentist. That is what the anesthetic is there for, and you do not need to feel embarrassed about your pain tolerance or worry about interrupting a dentist during a procedure.
2. Distract yourself
Taking your mind off the exam might seem impossible when you’re anxious, but there are some things you can do that can help you distract yourself.
- Wear headphones. If the sound of the drill makes you nervous, bring headphones so you can listen to your favorite music or audiobook.
- Keep your hands busy by squeezing a stress ball or playing with a small handheld object, like a fidget spinner.
- Use your imagination and visualize yourself relaxing at the beach or another “happy place.”
3. Use mindfulness and relaxation techniques
Relaxation is a state of mind. Try deep breathing exercises to relax tension in your muscles and relieve anxiety.
- Count your breaths. Inhale slowly and then exhale for the same count. Do this at least five times while you’re waiting for your appointment, or during breaks from treatment while you’re still in the dentist’s chair.
- Do a body scan. Focus on relaxing your muscles, one body part at a time. Begin with your head and work your way down to your toes. For example, concentrate on releasing tension starting in your forehead, then your cheeks, your neck and down the rest of your body.
- Many patients, even without dental anxiety, become very tense during dental exams or procedures. Regularly check in with your body to release tension in your head, neck, and shoulders to help you feel more relaxed and make the procedure easier on yourself.
Remember: Your dentist and their team are here to help you have a healthier smile. We don’t want you to be afraid or to hurt you. Make sure to communicate your fears so we can help you begin having positive experiences at the dentist’s office. And for patients who need it, East Hills Dental Associates offers sedation dentistry to make sure you get the treatments you need.
Contact us online today or call our office at (516) 253-6873 to schedule your appointment.