It happens twice a year, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Inevitably, every six months, the postcard arrives: it’s time for your bi-annual dental checkup. Fear grips your heart. It feels like your stomach is in your chest. You know you have to do it for your health, but when you suffer from dental anxiety, you may completely dread going to the dentist. At Smiles By Dr. Santos, we understand why you might experience dental anxiety when faced with a dental appointment. That’s why we do everything in our power to make a visit to our dental clinic a comfortable experience for you. Regardless, there are still things you can do for yourself to make the visit to the dentist go smoother.

Talk to Your Dentist

  • Express your fear. Dental anxiety is quite common, so it will be no surprise to your dentist if you express your fears. Be honest about your feelings, and make sure you clearly communicate with them from the start.
  • Ask questions. A lot of the time, anxiety comes from not knowing what is going to happen. Sometimes knowing what to expect can make a big difference in how comfortable you feel when undergoing a dental procedure.
  • Decide on a signal. Before your dentist starts the exam, make sure you have established a signal you can use if you need to take a break.
  • Talk about pain tolerance. Some patients feel embarrassed by their pain tolerance or feel too uncomfortable to express that they are in pain during a dental procedure. Know that many people need more local anesthesia than they think, and it is important you communicate your needs to your dentist.

Be Mindful

Anxiety is a mental state, so doing what you can to help the mind is key. You can do a lot for anxiety by practicing mindfulness. There are many mindfulness techniques used by patients with dental anxiety to relax the mind and body during procedures.

  • Try a deep breathing exercise. This simple technique can do a lot to calm anxiety. Simply inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, and hold your breath for four seconds again. Repeat at least four times before your appointment, and when you start to feel anxious during the appointment.
  • Use a stress ball. It may help ease your anxiety to keep your hands busy during your appointment. Bring a stress ball or fidget spinner to keep yourself occupied.
  • Escape with your mind. Try a visualization technique where you escape to your “happy place” during dental appointments. Before you head to our dental clinic, take the time to imagine your happy place. You might find yourself on a relaxing beach or a place from your childhood with a lot of pleasant memories. Regardless of where you choose, make sure you have a complete picture in your mind the maximize the impact.

At Smiles by Dr. Santos, we understand how much anxiety you might be experiencing about visiting the dentist, and how this may prevent you from seeking the care you need. We would like to work with you to do everything we can to make you feel comfortable in the dentist’s chair. If you’re looking for laser dentistry in Manahawkin, we’d love to help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Santos!