Even if you have a great relationship with your dentist, it’s not uncommon to feel nervous about climbing into the dentist chair. We all know how getting dental work done can stir uncomfortable anxieties. And, with some treatments subjecting you to physical discomfort on top of it, anxiety might seem unavoidable.
Feeling anxious about dentist appointments can manifest itself in a very real fear of getting work done on your teeth. Even when your fear-ridden mind tells you to avoid subjecting yourself to voluntary pain, common sense reminds you that we need to go scheduled dentist appointments for the good of our oral and overall health.
To reduce any emotional symptoms related to dentist visits, we have a few tricks to share. Keep on reading and your next appointment could be a cakewalk.
- Get ample rest before your appointment. Physical exhaustion feeds emotional exhaustion, and can completely change how you reach to situations. When you’re tired, you’re much more sensitive, particularly to anxiety—so, getting sufficient sleep prior to a dentist visit will minimize the likelihood of nightmarish distress. We also recommend setting your dentist appointments early in the morning so that you don’t have a whole day to wait and think about it. Lastly, while you are planning your next appointment, try not to plan anything physically or mentally stressful in the last hour before you arrive. Your body and mind will appreciate this, and thank you with lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
- Be sure to eat a good meal. Never go to the dentist on an empty stomach. The lower levels of glucose in your blood make your body more sensitive, and make thinking rationally more difficult. But if you experience stomach upset with anxiety, you’ll have to balance the need to eat with a careful measure of how much you want in your belly while you’re in the chair. The best bet is usually a small-to-medium-sized meal.
Note: some more drastic dental interventions require you not to eat beforehand. Be sure you understand the instructions before a dental appointment if there’s reason not to eat anything beforehand.
- Take someone along with you. Take a friend, partner or family member with you if you’d prefer to have company at the dentist’s office. Not only can your support help keep your rational side in-tact, but conversation before the appointment can serve as a distraction. And, leading up to the day of the appointment, you can think of your appointment as your chance to visit with your support person, rather than an outing purposed for dental work.
- Give yourself something to look forward to after the appointment, like a fun purchase or a favorite treat to take home. Remember that most dental treatments, even regular cleaning where fluoride is applied, require you not to eat or drink for a specific amount of time after the appointment. And in the case of local anesthesia, food might even taste different if you don’t wait until it wears off. But making the purchase while you’re out after the appointment can give you a sense of post-dentist celebration.
Whatever the case, and however you decide to cope, fear of going to the dentist isn’t always a bad thing. Some of our patients with the greatest anxiety around visits are also those who take the best care of their teeth! If it means fewer dentist trips, you have every reason to brush and floss after every meal.