Ask a Dentist

September 29, 2022

Q: How Can I Minimize My Dental Anxiety?

Directly above dental examination inspection of teenage girl covering mouth

Dental anxiety can be a big contributor to the avoidance of proper oral care. It has even been cited as the fifth most common cause of anxiety. Treating anxious patients can also be stressful for dentists because patients are often less cooperative which, in turn, leads to longer appointments. Ultimately, it can be an unpleasant experience for both the patient and the dental professional.

Patients with dental anxiety often feel something terrible will happen during their dental treatment causing them to decide not to visit the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. This behaviour results in bad oral health with more missing teeth, untreated cavities and poor periodontal status. 

We’re here to suggest ways for patients to alleviate their anxiety.

Speak To Your Dentist

A helpful way to deal with your anxiety is to discuss it with your dentist before your dental procedure begins. If they know what you’re afraid of, they can tailor your appointment to help make you feel safe and comfortable during your visit. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you enter the dental clinic. If you fear having a lack of control while you're on the dental chair, ask your dentist to explain every step of the procedure while they work on your teeth. That way, you’ll know exactly what’s going to happen throughout the visit.

Another option is to agree on a signal before the procedure. Let your dentist know that when you raise your hand, it signals that you need a break, you’re feeling uncomfortable or you need to rinse your mouth. 

You should also talk to your dentist about the pain before your procedure starts. They can offer you sedation options such as IV sedation or nitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas) to help you relax and ease any pain or discomfort. 

Distract Yourself

Taking your mind off the dental work happening in your mouth may seem impossible, but there are some things you can do to distract your thoughts: 

  • Listen to your favourite music to block out any noises and give you something else to focus on. It may also help you drift off during the procedure.
  • Occupy your hands by squeezing a stress ball or playing with a small-handed object, like a fidget spinner or a fidget cube.
  • Imagine your happy place and visualize yourself at a sunny beach or a cozy cafe. 

Relax Your Mind

Breathe slowly and regularly to reduce stress and increase oxygen flow. Anxious patients tend to hold their breath which lowers their oxygen level and increases their feelings of anxiety. While you breathe, concentrate on relaxing your muscles. You can start from your forehead and slowly go downwards to your cheeks, neck and then to the rest of your body. 

Our team at Dental Image Therapy Centres can help you come up with a plan to make your appointment comfortable, safe and anxiety-free. We don’t bite—we’re here to help you with your dental needs. Schedule an appointment with us today if you haven’t been to a checkup and cleaning for a while now. We’re conveniently located at St. Vital Centre and Garden City Shopping Centre.

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Maybe it's time for your and your family's regular checkup and cleaning, you have a toothache or you need to get your treatment plan going - whatever the reason, we're here to help you get your confident smile. Whether you're a new patient or a returning friend, we can't wait to see you at your next appointment at either of our Winnipeg clinics!

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