If you are afraid to see your dentist, you are not alone! In our last blog article, we shared an eye-opening statistic from the British Medical Journal that shows most individuals fear the dentist. Specifically, 1 in 5 individuals who were surveyed reported fearing the dentist more than snakes, spiders, or heights. For Miami dentists, this statistic shows that greater care must be taken in educating patients of the importance of regular dental cleanings to prevent oral health problems. Additionally, it illustrates a large need for patients to learn to cope with dental fear and anxiety.
In our last article, Dental Anxiety Pt. I, we discussed a few ways in which patients can identify and cope with dental anxiety in the months leading up to a scheduled appointment. Anxiety normally grows, however, in the days leading up to a dental appointment. That anxiety typically peaks on the day of the appointment, creating a tension that may make the thought of cancelling your appointment seem pretty enticing.
Canceling or even prolonging dental visits is always a terrible idea! Professional dental cleanings are needed to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Moreover, avoiding the dentist for months or even years usually creates bigger problems. Patients who do not keep regular appointments typically fall victim to severe accumulations of plaque, decay, and disease.
Assure a Smile has prepared this exclusive Miami Dentist Blog article to help patients overcome the fear and anxiety that typically builds on the day of their dental appointment.
Coping with Dental Anxiety: The Day of Your Appointment
Anxiety may become pronounced on the day of your visit, but do not worry! This too is a normal reaction. We must remind ourselves that we cannot allow anxiety to deter our actions. Patients may find the following tips helpful in diffusing the heightened anxiety one may experience
1. Positive Visualization
Positive visualization is a popular exercise among a variety of individuals, ranging from public speakers to professional athletes. It is simple to perform and effectively reduces anxiety by giving the mind time to acknowledge and counter it. In the morning before your appointment, take a moment to think about how the appointment ought to go. Allow your mind’s eye to construct every detail of your visit. Start with your arrival in the parking lot, then slowly visualize entering the reception area and checking in. Do not rush! Allow your imagination to construct your visit, before it happens, with great attention to detail. You may wish to recall the color of the carpeting, or the smile on the face of the receptionist. Most importantly, visualize your appointment going well! Each of us knows how lovely it feels to hear our dental professional say everything is in good shape and we’re “cavity free.” Run through your ideal “perfect visit” and acknowledge that it can feel good!
2. In the Waiting Room
Once you arrive, you may wish to employ tension management techniques to counter the last minute “butterflies.” Tension management techniques are also very popular among public speakers and professional athletes, as both are prone to last minute nervousness. Two great techniques include deep breathing and fist clenching. Deep breathing can be done simply by drawing long inhalations through the nose and slowly releasing through the mouth. This is very similar to “yoga breathing.” Fist clenching, as the name implies, involves clenching the fingers of each hand into a fist. Squeeze for a moment, then slowly release. This simple action will allow the muscles to dispel the tension the builds in the muscles of the body when we become nervous or anxious. Combine fist clenching with deep breathing, and tension will slowly dissipate while you wait for your appointment to begin.
3. In the chair
Climbing into the dental chair is often the most stressful part of the entire experience. Combine each of the stress management techniques described above: visualize everything going well, take long breaths, and clench your fists a few times to rid your body of any last minute tension buildup. Before long, your appointment will be over and you will be feeling healthy and confident in your oral health!
Stress Free Dentistry at Assure a Smile
Assure a Smile has been a leading Miami holistic dentistry practice for more than 20 years. Our team of professionals is committed to deliver only the highest quality of service. At Assure a Smile, we go to great lengths to ensure your visit is a comfortable and pleasant experience!
Miami residents are encouraged to schedule an appointment with Assure a Smile online, or call or friendly front desk directly at 305-274-0047!