Overcoming Dental Anxiety: How to Silence Your Fear of the Dentist

Recent studies have shown that 15% of Americans have dental anxiety. Perhaps it’s the sound of the drill, or the ultra-sterile look and feel of the waiting room? Maybe it’s the latex-clad hands invading your mouth as you try not to think about what’s about to happen.

Did those sentences make your palms clammy and your heart rate accelerate? If so, you may be one of those unlucky folks who fear going to the dentist. At Susquehanna Dental Arts, we’re committed to making your experience with us comfortable and relaxing. Here are just a few tips to overcome your dental anxiety, and enjoy your time here with us as much as we enjoy serving you.

Speak Up!four hands with dental tools hovering over a lady covering her mouth

A large portion of the factors contributing to dental anxiety can be chalked up to a bad dental experience. Perhaps the hygienist wasn’t thorough at your last visit, or the dentist was insensitive or rough. Don’t let past visits dictate how your next cleaning will go – tell us about it! Let your dentist and the staff know up front about any experiences that linger in your mind and ask about any coping strategies they’ve seen.

A common stress reliever in patients with dental anxiety is understanding what’s happening at your visit. More often than not, a large portion of the anxiety stems from a fear of the unknown. Will this procedure hurt? What will the dentist say about my dental habits? Sometimes cost can even be a factor when it comes to dental anxiety. Speak up, and gather all the information you need to put your mind at ease.

Learn Mindfulness Techniques

For many people with dental anxiety, all they need to stay relaxed at the dentist is a distraction. Deep breathing and muscle relaxation exercises will often occupy the mind enough to stifle the anxiety about what’s going on with your teeth. Try counting your breaths; inhale slowly for a set number of counts, then exhale for the same number of counts. Do this during the wait before your appointment as well as during breaks in the chair to relax and lower your heart rate.

A full body check-in can also help you pass the time and decrease your awareness of the procedure being performed. For example, start at the top of your head and tense the muscles, then release them slowly (maybe skip the muscles in the jaw while the dentist’s hands are in your mouth). You’ll be surprised how much tension you can alleviate by checking in with each muscle group individually, and how much time you can pass by doing this exercise.

Half the battle to overcoming dental anxiety is finding a dentist you can trust: that’s where we come in. At Susquehanna Dental Arts, we’re here for you to find the best comprehensive, holistic care while being comfortable and secure. Ready to experience a new kind of dentistry? Give us a call at 717-285-7033 to schedule your appointment today!