As someone sensitive to the cold, needles, and all things scary, dental anxiety is something that some people may experience. As an adult, though, many of us have learned how to embrace fears while still living life fully. That means that while most of us may not like visiting dentists or thinking about oral health much (outside of fictional characters in shows like “American Horror Story”),

Most people don’t let fear dictate what they do or don’t do for themselves. But many people do let fear get the better of them when it comes to dentistry. Roughly 75 million Americans are afflicted with dental phobia or dental anxiety — a condition that results in intense fear and apprehension over dentist visits.

The good news: There are ways to combat this kind of fear. If you are among those who struggle with dental anxiety, read on for tips and tricks on how to get over it once and for all.

Talk to your Dentist About Dental Anxiety!

If you’re new to dentistry or have a dental phobia that you’ve been dealing with for a long time, it might be helpful to talk to your dentist about it. They may be able to give you tips on how to make the experience as comfortable as possible. If you’re nervous about the sound of the dental drill, for example, your dentist may have special earphones you can wear to drown out the noise. Dentists are trained to help anxious patients.

They can talk you through what they’re doing and offer tips on how to calm yourself down while in the chair. If you’re not comfortable having a conversation like this with your dentist, talk to the receptionist about it. They’re usually able to put you in touch with the dentist or dental hygienist.

Plan Ahead

If you know you’re going to have to go to the dentist soon and are nervous about it, try coming up with a plan ahead of time. Write out a list of questions that you want to ask your dentist. If you’re new to the dental scene, this is a great way to get more information about what they do, why they do it, and what you can do to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

If you’ve been to the dentist before, this is a great way to keep yourself calm. Plan what you’re going to do in the days leading up to your appointment. Are there things you can do to relax your body to ease your anxiety? Maybe you can ask a friend or family member to come with you to the appointment to provide moral support.

Try Some Breathing Exercises For Dental Anxiety

If you’re incredibly nervous about your upcoming dental visit, try doing a few breathing exercises beforehand. Breathing exercises aren’t just for people who suffer from anxiety; they can help anyone who needs to relax and calm their mind. Dentists recommend taking a few deep breaths through your nose and then out of your mouth, focusing on your stomach rising and falling as you breathe. This can help bring your heart rate and blood pressure back to normal, which can help you feel less nervous.

Distract Yourself With Music or a Podcast

If you know you’re going to be going to the dentist soon and are nervous, you can use music or podcasts as a way to distract yourself. Bring your phone with you to the appointment and download a podcast or music that you love. Try to focus on whatever is playing, rather than your nerves and anxiety! If you’re not a podcast person, try reading a book or magazine on your phone to help you calm down. Anything that can distract you from your dental fears is helpful here — whatever works for you is what you should do!

Make Sure You’re in the Right Environment

If you know you’re nervous about going to the dentist, try to visit when it’s a quiet time of day, or by making sure you’re in a quiet space when you go. Avoid going during rush hour if possible, or visiting on a day when there’s a big sporting event that could make things more hectic. If you know there will be a lot of people in your dentist’s waiting room, try to visit when it’s less crowded. While it may not be within your control, trying to minimize the people around you can help you feel less anxious.

Dental Anxiety Can Be Controlled

If you’re nervous about going to the dentist, you’re not alone. Roughly 75 million Americans are afflicted with dental phobia or extreme anxiety about visiting the dentist.

To get over this anxiety, be sure to talk to your dentist about your fears, try breathing exercises, and distract yourself with music or a podcast. Most importantly, don’t let your fears hold you back from taking care of your teeth and visiting the dentist.

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