When you have anxiety, it can be hard to do much of anything. The tension that builds in your body can feel overwhelming, and your mind might begin to race; it’s not a pleasant experience. We’ve discussed anxiety on the blog before; specifically, we’ve discussed the vicious circle of dental anxiety. You can go back and read that post, but here’s a quick summary: folks with dental anxiety don’t go to the dentist, their dental problems get worse, they eventually have to go to the dentist, and because their dental problems have gotten more severe the experience is less pleasant, aggravating their anxiety. That means it’s incredibly important to go to the dentist when you have dental anxiety; the more often you go regularly, the less prominent your anxiety will be. While that notion is good in principle, the fact of the matter is that you need techniques to get through the anxiety in the first place; this blog will provide you with some coping mechanisms you can try.
The most important thing to do is talk about your anxiety. Talking about it with friends and family is a good first step. When you book your appointment, let the receptionist know that you’re anxious about the appointment; when you arrive at the dental office, remind them again about your concerns. Talk with your dentist about what might be making you anxious; is it a vague feeling, or are their specific circumstances that occured in the past that are making you worry about your visit? Your dentist can also share tips and tricks with you about how you can cope with specific anxieties. It can be helpful to develop a system with your dentist where you signal them when the anxiety has become too strong, so they know to give you a break. Never hesitate to tell the dentist when you’re in pain; they can change their methods to alleviate the amount of pain you’re experiencing.
Distracting yourself can also be incredibly useful for dealing with anxiety. You can bring a stress ball or other squeezable object with you to focus your attention to your hands when a dental procedure is occuring. You can bring earbuds with you if you find the noises in a dental office trigger your anxiety. You can also use your imagination to visualize a more pleasant scene. There’s a variety of other ways of distracting yourself from anxiety and panic attacks.
Mindfulness techniques can be useful, too. Before you go to the dentist, and in the reception area, take a moment to focus on your breath. Breathe in and out deeply, counting your breaths; feel your belly expanding as you breathe in, and contracting as you breathe out. You can also focus on each individual body part, starting from the toes up; try relaxing every part of your body.
At Markham Dental Centre, we’re proud to have experienced dentists who have seen all kinds of dental anxiety before; don’t be afraid to talk to us about your anxiety, because we’ll be able to help.