Feeling nervous or anxious before a dentist appointment is normal, whether it's a regular check-up or you know you have some kind of treatment coming up. However, even mild dental anxiety can be really unpleasant, especially if you're not used to feeling anxious. This guide explains three practical things you can to do get through that appointment you're worrying about.
Make Sure You've Chosen the Right Dentist
This isn't so much a technique you can try mid-appointment, but if you're not usually an anxious person, it's worth thinking about why the dentist worries you. You should feel able to tell your dentist that you're nervous, or ask to stop mid-session and ask any questions about your oral health. If you don't feel comfortable, it might be that your dentist isn't the right fit for you — and that doesn't mean that either of you is bad, just that you don't really click. Most dental practices have multiple dentists, and you shouldn't feel afraid to ask to see someone else. If that's not possible, you either need a new practice or to work on communicating effectively with your current dentist.
Take a Friend or a Distraction
There's nothing worse than sitting in the waiting room feeling nervous about your upcoming appointment, watching other nervous people. Taking a friend to your appointment is a great idea as they can chat with you in the waiting room and distract you, and if you're really nervous, can even come into the appointment room with you and talk to you during your checkup or treatment. If none of your friends are free, or you don't feel it would be helpful, bring something to do while you wait, whether it's a good book, a podcast you've been waiting to listen to or your current knitting project. This touch of home will help you to feel safe and relaxed, while also distracting you from your nerves.
Learn Some Breathing and Visualisation Techniques
Many people with mild or moderate anxiety find comfort in breathing and visualisation techniques, and this is something you can do while the dentist is actually looking at your teeth. Slowing your breathing is a very simple thing you can do to calm yourself. Very Well Mind explains how visualisation for anxiety works, suggesting that you visualise yourself on a beautiful beach, going through each sense and thinking about what you could feel, see, hear and smell. You can visualise anything that comforts you, whether it's a pine forest or a favourite coffee shop. Bear in mind that this is definitely something you need to practice before you're sitting in the dentist's chair, as it's not likely to be too effective the first time you try it!
Whether you decide to take a friend or visualise a sandy beach, these tips and techniques are sure to make your appointment feel less scary and more manageable, which will hopefully lead to your next appointment being a less anxious experience.
For more information, contact a dentist near you.