How to Manage Dental Anxiety

dentist in Sterling VAIf you’re putting off making that dental appointment because you’re anxious about going to the dentist, you’re not alone. Studies show around 15% of people avoid making dental appointments, and that could be from a variety of reasons.

Waiting to see the dentist only makes dental problems worse and require more extensive treatment, so it’s best not to put off seeing the dentist. Keeping regular appointments with a dentist you’re comfortable with can actually make the process easier and keep your visits short and sweet.

Dr. Datta Malyavantham and his team at Ridgetop Dental in Sterling, VA have tips to help you overcome dental fear. Use these tips at your next appointment to keep calm and keep your smile healthy and strong.

1. Speak up

Don’t be ashamed of your anxiety about seeing the dentist. Let your providers know about your concerns so that they can be better able to treat you. If they know you’re anxious, they will take time to explain what’s happening and keep you calm.

  • Talk to your dentist about the anxiety. Tell the receptionist that dental care makes you nervous and remind the staff about the anxiety when you check in. It can be helpful to share any bad experiences you’ve had so they can offer advice on how to cope with the fear.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask the dental team to tell you what they’re doing during your treatment.
  • It’s okay to take a break during the exam, so tell your dentist if you need to take a break. Don’t worry about interrupting the dentist if you’re uncomfortable.

2. Distract yourself

There are some things you can do that might distract you from the dental exam or procedure. Taking your mind off the exam might keep you calm.

  • Wear headphones. If the sound of the drill makes you nervous, bring headphones so you can listen to your favorite music or audiobook.
  • Keep your hands busy by squeezing a stress ball or playing with a small handheld object, like a fidget spinner.
  • Use your imagination and visualize yourself relaxing at the beach or another happy place.

3. Use mindfulness techniques

While you might think meditation has no place in a dentist’s chair, think again. Try deep breathing exercises to relieve tension, or close your eyes and practice relaxation techniques to relieve anxiety.

  • Count your breaths. Inhale slowly and then exhale for the same count. Do this at least five times while you’re waiting for your appointment, or during breaks from treatment while you’re still in the dentist’s chair.
  • Do a body scan. Focus on relaxing your muscles, one body part at a time. Begin with your head and work your way down to your toes. For example, concentrate on releasing tension starting in your forehead, then your cheeks, your neck and down the rest of your body.

Remember: Your dentist and their team are here to help you have a healthier smile.  They don’t want you to be afraid or to hurt you. Make sure to communicate your fears so they can help you begin having positive experiences at the dentist’s office.

If you’re in the Sterling, VA area and are looking for dental care from a team of compassionate and skilled dental professionals, contact Ridgetop Dental at (703) 520-7410 or schedule an appointment online today.

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