Cold sweats, clammy hands, and increased heartbeat – these are just a few signs of the anxiety that can come from your regular dental appointment. But you're not alone in the absolute horror you have for your sojourn in the dentist's chair – studies show that as many as 20% of the population fear the dentist so much that they go out of their way to avoid going to dental appointments. But your teeth still need a dentist's TLC – so what can you do? If you're looking for tips to make the trip to the dentist's office a little less panicked, then here's what you need to know.
Deep, Controlled Breathing
No, it's not just for women in labor or yoga practitioners – deep breathing is an important step in calming your body's fear response. Take in a big breath, filling your lungs to their fullest capacity. After that, hold your breath for long enough that you are completely aware of the breath in your body being held but not so long that it becomes painful or your head starts to hurt.
Then, slowly let the breath out, being careful not to let too much escape at one time. Picture your body as a balloon with a tiny, microscopic hole in it, and let the air slowly escape. Doing this will calm your heart rate and relax your muscles – both of which are essential to preventing a freak out.
Use the Buddy System
If the idea of even walking into a dentist's office gives you chills, and you're not sure you can reach any sort of composure alone, consider bringing along a trusted friend or family member who has no fear of the dentist's office. Their calm manner can help to reassure you that not only is there nothing to worry about, but also that there will be someone in the office who supports you completely and is there to help you.
Find the Perfect Dentist for You
There are family dentists all over the country that advertise to patients who get anxious in a dentist's office. These kinds of dentists use the tell-show-do method of cleaning teeth, which first involves an explanation of what the dentist is going to do, then a demonstration of how the tools look, feel, and sound, and then finally, when the patient gives the go-ahead, performs the demonstrated action. Doing this can give a patient a sense of control and understanding about the situation, which can work wonders for calming the mind.