If you experience fear or anxiety surrounding visits to the dentist, you’re in good company. Millions of people around the world are afraid of getting the dental work they need.
At Shamblott Family Dentistry, we’re on a mission to help patients work through these fears so they can get the care they deserve. Today, I’m going to talk about a couple of ways you can reduce your anxiety during your next visit.
Affirmations. An affirmation is a form of emotional support and encouragement that you can give to yourself. Many people struggle to calm themselves down when they are in the dentist’s chair. Affirmations are a great way to work towards creating a more positive experience in that moment.
It’s best to prepare and practice your affirmations before your appointment. Start by writing down short, easy-to-remember phrases that can help replace your negative thoughts with positive ones. Here are a few examples of affirmations that have worked well with my patients in the past.
- “I like seeing my dentist.”
- “I feel safe at the dentist.”
- “I have healthy teeth and a beautiful smile.”
- “I am in complete control of my life, even when I’m visiting my dentist.”
Once you’ve chosen your preferred affirmation, practice saying it out loud to yourself. Familiarize yourself with it and notice if it helps to calm you down. If the affirmation you choose doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, try another one.
The more you repeat your affirmations, the more powerful they become. Be sure to say them as if you really mean them, thinking about each word and feeling its power. Say them aloud when waking up, getting dressed, driving the kids to practice, gardening, running, and falling asleep. You can also record affirmations on your phone and listen to them. It may sound corny, but it really works.
Breathing Techniques. Deep breathing exercises have been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. I recommend a combination of breathing techniques and mantras to stay calm during your appointment.
Similar to an affirmation, a mantra is a statement that is repeated frequently. I usually suggest picking a mantra that can easily match up with your inhales and exhales. I give patients the mantra “I am relaxed” to try before and during appointments.
As you breathe in, think or say “I am,” and as you breathe out, think or say “relaxed.”
I am… Relaxed… I am… Relaxed.
Repeating this mantra, or one that you’ve found helps you, will aid in relaxing both your body and mind throughout your procedure or cleaning.
If mantras aren’t your thing or make you uncomfortable, you can simply try deep breathing to soothe your nervous system. Take long, deep, slow breaths; inhaling and exhaling through your nose. Try to breathe in for the same amount of time as you breathe out. For example, if you slowly breathe in as you count to four, try to count to four at the same pace during your exhale.
In addition to making dental appointments go a little smoother, these exercises can help you in many other stressful situations. Try using these relaxation tools the next time you start to feel frazzled or overwhelmed.
Looking for a fear-free dentist you can love? Call us today at 952-234-8568.