Gum disease has been linked to Alzheimer's and cancer, so visiting the dentist regularly is imperative for your dental health and your overall health. But what if you get anxious at the mere thought of stepping foot inside your dentist's surgery? Feeling anxious and panicky about visiting the dentist is actually quite common and can occur for a number of reasons. Perhaps you had a bad experience in the past or your anxiety stems from a deep-rooted fear of pain. Whatever the reason you fear the dentist's chair, don't be tempted to skip this part of your healthcare regime. Here are some tips to help you tame your anxiety:
Discuss Your Fears With Your Dentist Beforehand
Making your dentist aware of your fear of sitting in their chair before you even step foot in their surgery will give them the opportunity to support you from the moment you arrive for your appointment. A good dentist will want to understand how they can help and what your particular anxiety triggers may be. For example, if you can't cope with the sound of someone's teeth being drilled or find your anxiety increases the longer you sit in the waiting room, they can advise you of the times the surgery tends to be quietest or arrange to see you as their first appointment of the day.
Split Dental Work Into Several Appointments
Now, suggesting you split one appointment into several may sound counterintuitive, but if you need quite a bit of dental work this strategy can make your anxiety more manageable. A long appointment lasting an hour or more may be overwhelming and leave you feeling burnt out, which could impact your likelihood of returning for check-ups in the future. However, splitting the work over several shorter appointments can get you out of the chair before you reach breaking point, and each time you successfully get through an appointment you'll experience a sense of accomplishment that may serve to make subsequent appointments less of an ordeal for you.
What could you do to take your mind off your appointment and distract you from the usual sounds in the dentist's surgery? Try creating a playlist of relaxing music or listening to a podcast or audiobook while in the waiting room and during your dental treatment. You may also want to consider meditative counting, which can reduce anxiety and help you relax by drawing your focus to your breathing.
Give these tips a go next time you need to visit the dentist, and remember, your dentist is there to help. They are used to seeing patients who have dental phobias and will have a few suggestions of their own to help you through your appointment.