Managing Dental Anxiety: 5 Strategies for a Relaxing Dental Experience

There is help for dental anxiety.

Overcoming Anxiety in the Dental Chair

If your visits to your Wasilla dentist’s office cause you to experience heightened stress, you’re certainly not alone. Dental anxiety plagues tens of thousands of Americans and makes it tempting to skip out on dental appointments. 

But because your oral health is so closely linked to your overall health, routine visits are essential for preventing tooth decay and other adverse conditions. Understanding how to manage your dental anxiety is crucial to ensuring you get the dental care you need.

Strategies for Calming Dental Anxiety During Your Appointment

There are many approaches to managing dental anxiety. What works for one person may not work for another. So it’s vital to keep trying different techniques until you find what works best for you. The goal is not to ignore what you’re feeling but instead to manage it well so you can comfortably receive the treatment you need.

If you don’t currently have a dentist, finding the right office is the first step to manage dental anxiety. Reading online reviews is an excellent way to narrow down your choices when selecting a dental home. Of course, it’s best not to rely solely on what other people say, but reviews are a valuable tool to help you decide nonetheless.

Consider how prior patients describe their experiences. See if they mention how welcomed they felt and their overall level of comfort. Take note of any reviews that mention dental anxiety and how the office helped mitigate those patients’ fears, if at all.

1. Communication and Trust-Building

When you schedule your appointment, be up front with your new dental team. Voice any fears you have about visiting the dentist so they can fully understand your concerns and can help you accordingly.

Open communication is the best way to build a trusting relationship, and that begins with expressing your concerns. The best dentist in Wasilla won’t dismiss what you’re feeling; instead, they’ll offer you tips and techniques to help you remain calm through your entire appointment.

2. Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques have been around for years to calm the mind across a slew of situations, and dentists encourage anxious patients to employ these strategies to ease their nerves. Some patients enjoy listening to their favorite music through headphones while their dental team works. Personalized music can help increase calmness and comfort. 

Breathing exercises are also helpful in the fight against dental anxiety. Taking a deep breath increases oxygen in your body and helps release tension. Concentrating on your breath also takes your mind off of your surroundings. Numerous studies have proven that meditation can also ease depression and anxiety. 

3. Distraction Techniques

One of the simplest techniques involves distracting yourself with common, everyday items. It can be as easy as turning on your favorite TV show or listening to an audiobook. 

Other distraction strategies you can try out include the following:

  • Hold a comfort item, such as a stress ball.
  • Use a fidget toy (so long as it will not interfere with treatment).
  • Have a friend or family member accompany you. 
  • Visualize yourself in a peaceful place.

Any of these methods will divert your attention from treatment and promote feelings of relaxation. Distraction techniques are especially useful for calming a child during their dental appointment.

4. Sedation Options 

Some cases of dental anxiety require additional help to achieve relaxation. In these instances, sedation can help make your experience stress-free and painless. These options include the use of oral medications, nitrous oxide (laughing gas), or intravenous (IV) conscious sedation. You’ll remain awake but enter a more relaxed state to reduce anxiety and keep you comfortable.

5. Positive Reinforcement and Rewards 

Another way to alleviate dental anxiety is through positive reinforcement and rewards. Rewarding yourself once treatment is over will help you associate visiting the dentist with positive thoughts rather than negative emotions.

Treat yourself to a good meal or engage in a favorite activity after your dental visit. These reinforcements also work well with children and encourage their cooperation at future visits. Who wouldn’t get excited knowing they are going to get ice cream after having their teeth cleaned?

Dentistry for the Entire Family 

At Valley Dental Clinic, we don’t want anyone to experience a fear of the dentist’s office, but we understand that it can feel unavoidable for some patients. Having a successful dental visit is more than being told you don’t have any cavities; it is a reflection of your overall experience. Our team is happy to discuss your needs, as well as strategies to manage your dental anxiety. We’ll help you find a solution to ensure you are stress-free as you receive your dental care. Contact Valley Dental Clinic today to schedule an appointment.