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How to Manage Dental Anxiety

dental anxiety family dentist fullertonIf merely thinking about seeing the dentist makes you break out in a cold sweat, you’re not alone. Many people suffer from dental anxiety. Maybe you’re worried about the possibility of pain or perhaps you haven’t been in a while and you’re worried about what the dentist will find.

Waiting to see the dentist will only give any dental issues time to become worse, bringing you more time spent in a dentist’s chair, more expense and more discomfort. Scheduling regular visits with your dentist can actually help make the entire process much easier on many levels.

Dr. Kush Patel and his team at Fullerton Craft Smiles Dental want to give you some tips to help you beat your fear of the dentist’s chair. Use these helpful hints at your next appointment to help ease your anxiety and keep your smile healthy and strong.

1. Speak up

Fears tend to become less powerful when you speak them aloud and knowing that others are aware of your feelings and understand you can be very comforting. If you’re feeling anxious, do yourself a favor and let your dental team know your concerns. Your dentist and their team will be better able to treat you if they know your needs.

  • 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 your dental team to let you know 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. Some patients may feel embarrassed about their pain tolerance or don’t want to interrupt 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 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 full body scan. Focus on relaxing your muscles, one body part at a time. Begin with your head and work your way gradually 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.

Keep in mind that your dentist and their team are not there to harm you or scare you but to help you have a healthier smile.  Make sure to communicate your fears about dental treatment to them so they can help you begin to have positive experiences at the dentist’s office.

Manage Dental Anxiety in Fullerton, CA

If you’re in the Fullerton, CA area and are looking for dental care from a team of compassionate and skilled dental professionals, contact Fullerton Craft Smiles Dental at (714) 888-7008 or schedule an appointment online today.