If you get squeamish even thinking about the dentist, you’re not alone. Each year, thousands of people skip their annual dental exam because of fear and anxiety. We understand that seeing the doctor, especially when you haven’t had a visit for quite a while, can be overwhelming and scary. However, it is extremely important that you learn to overcome these fears and take control of your dental health before your teeth and gums are in real trouble. Dental anxiety is nothing to be embarrassed about. If you want to learn how to ease dental anxiety and form healthy habits around dental care, follow these tried and true methods.

Dentist with patient

Recognize Your Anxiety

The first step to overcoming your dental anxiety is to recognize it as an irrational anxiety to begin with. A lot of people don’t recognize some of their symptoms as being associated with anxiety, but anxiety can appear in a variety of ways for different people. If you notice any of the following symptoms prior to a dental exam, you may have underlying dental fears:

  • Trouble sleeping the night before your exam.
  • Feeling nauseous at the thought of going to the dentist.
  • Difficulty breathing when thinking about your dentist appointment.
  • Tension in the neck and shoulders prior to your exam.

Once you recognize your symptoms as dental anxiety, you’ll be better equipped to overcome them.

Talk To Your Dentist About Your Fears

If you’re unsure about how to ease dental anxiety, share your feelings with your dentist. Often, having open communication with your dentist prior to your appointment will put your mind more at ease. Your dentist may be able to walk you through certain aspects of your procedure that may be troubling you, or provide more insight into some techniques to help keep you calm during your appointment. Alerting your dentist of any fears you have before your appointment will help you both be prepared to deal with any issues that may arise.

Practice Proper Breathing

If nothing else, focusing on proper breathing is essential to keeping your central nervous system in check. During your dental exam, focus on counting your breath and taking slow, deliberate breaths in and out through your nose. Try to actively slow your breath if it becomes quick or erratic.

With these tips in mind, many of our patients have been able to recognize and overcome their dental fears and anxieties. Don’t neglect your health because of your anxiety. Take control of your body and mind with the help of a dental professional.