A dental visit can be scary. Rather than let your fear keep you away, use these steps before and during your checkup.
Ready? Let’s get started.
Before Your Visit
You may become anxious days or weeks before your dentist visit. Instead of dwelling on it, become proactive. Instead of spending every waking moment dreading it, try preparing yourself for it.
One reason that your anxiety is so bad is that you feel like you can’t control the situation. That’s why you should do as much as you can to prepare. You will be taking control of everything you can. Here’s how to start:
- Make a playlist of your favorite songs.
- Make sure you have alternatives to music such as podcasts and audiobooks.
- Charge your phone or smart device as well as your Bluetooth headphones.
- If you aren’t familiar with how to use your device and headphones, then practice with them at home. Now’s your chance to get a family member or friend to help you understand your devices.
- Read up on mindfulness techniques and practice a few.
- Pick out a small item that you can hold in your hand for comfort.
- Find out if a buddy could get a checkup at the same time. Or, ask a buddy to drive you and stay in the waiting room if you need them. Either way, a familiar face can help you through your most anxious moments.
- By the way, never let anyone tell you about their own fears of the dentist. They are likely to make their visits sound awful, and you do not need that kind of stress.
On the Way to the Dentist Office
Instead of allowing your anxiety to win, blow off steam. One of the best ways is to sing at the top of your lungs to your favorite songs in the car. You will be surprised at how that takes your mind off your anxiety, and hopefully, it will get you to your destination with less stress.
Another way is to walk it off. If you can allow yourself some time, you can get off the bus early and walk part of the way. Or, you can pick a parking spot far from the door and force yourself to walk.
Perhaps you could make a few laps around the parking lot. Perhaps you and your buddy can stop at a nearby park and walk a few laps.
If you have plenty of time, practice yoga or do your regular work out before your appointment. It’s harder to be anxious when your body has done some exercise.
Whenever you have doubts, remind yourself that visiting the dentist is preventative medicine. You will have fewer problems and less pain overall if you do it regularly.
At the Dentist Office
When you arrive, tell the receptionist that you are highly anxious and ask him or her to relay that to the team. In the waiting room, avoid posters, magazines, and videos that talk about dental procedures or anything that could trigger more anxiety.
If possible, you should read a book or magazine that distracts you. Of course, this is the perfect excuse for playing a video game. Perhaps the best thing to do is to close your eyes and listen to a funny podcast.
On your walk back to the dental chair, be sure to tell the dental professional how you feel. You also want to make sure they will talk to the dentist. This is not a time for keeping secrets. It is worth it to tell them how anxious you are, and if possible, why it makes you feel that way.
Before they begin, have them explain the procedure and encourage them to talk you through it, including telling you how long something will take or how close to the end they are.
The American Dental Association recommends that you establish a signal between you and the dental team. It is usually that you will raise your hand if you need a break.
Once they start, you should start your chosen exercises. It may be easier to do mindfulness techniques when listening to calm music.
Whether you are tensing and relaxing each set of muscles or inhaling and exhaling, be sure to count. This forces your mind to think about something other than the procedure.
Your handheld item may remind you of a favorite activity or a favorite person, such as a child or grandchild. However, it may be useful to have a squeeze ball. If you count and squeeze, this simple activity may help direct your mind away from the situation.
Overcoming your anxiety isn’t easy, and you should feel free to reward yourself in some way after it’s over. Perhaps you can concentrate on how you will treat yourself while you are stuck in the dentist’s chair.
Use the time to dream big. Maybe you’ll buy new clothes or get a new haircut or have something delicious for dinner.
Hopefully, these techniques and tricks will help you have a better visit to the dentist. You may not be able to prevent your anxiety entirely, but if you take control of everything you can before and during the visit, it may be easier to come back the next time.
About The Author:
Laura Bell contributes regularly to websites on a variety of subjects. Her interests include modern trends, technology, health care, and anything else that affects the quality of life of her readers.