Sometimes the anxiety that sets in while you're waiting in the dentist's office can be worse than your treatment itself. Many men and women have a dental phobia that's so severe that they won't even go to the dentist until they're in extreme pain. With modern dentistry techniques, complex procedures -- like root canals -- are much quicker and less invasive than they used to be. Whether you have dental anxiety each time you have a routine cleaning, or only when you know there might be drilling involved, try some of these tips to ease your mind.
1. Take Deep Breaths
Learning to focus on breathing when anxiety sets in is one of the best things you can do while waiting in the dentist's office. You can even work on deep breathing techniques during your procedure. Start by closing your mouth and inhaling through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath and count to seven. Slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of eight. During your exhale, it's helpful to make a light "whoosh" sound to release tension. Repeat these steps at least four times, or until you feel relaxed.
2. Start Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a quick and easy way to help you through episodes of dental anxiety. The goal is to tense up each of the muscles in your body one by one. Start with your facial muscles, squeezing your eyelids shut as tight as you can. Hold that tension for 15 seconds, then release. Continue working your way down your body, tensing up your neck, shoulders, abdomen, and so forth. You should even spend time tensing up your limb muscles, all the way down to the tips of your fingers and toes.
Each time you squeeze a different muscle group, just hold it for 15 seconds. Upon each release, you're going to let some of that underlying anxiety go. If you start becoming stressed or feeling discomfort during your dental treatment, you can easily start your progressive muscle relaxation techniques all over again while lying back in the dentist's chair.
3. Ask About Sedation Dentistry
Your dentist wants you to feel comfortable and relaxed during your visit. If you haven't talked to your dentist or hygienist about sedation dentistry before, now is the time. When you arrive at your dentist's office, let the team know that you're experiencing some anxiety and would like to try sedation dentistry. Depending on your needs, this can involve something as simple as inhaling nitrous oxide (laughing gas) during your procedure. If you have severe dental anxiety or if you're having a long treatment, you might benefit from oral or intravenous (IV) sedation. By selecting your sedation in the dentist's office while you wait, you can quickly put your mind at ease by knowing you're going to be able to relax throughout your visit.
For more information, contact a company like Carpenter Dental.