Coping Strategies for Dentally Anxious Patients

brian rich dmd

Practicing a good oral hygiene routine at home and visiting the Knoxville, TN, dentist at least twice a year are essential to achieving optimal oral health. However, patients who struggle with dental anxiety are likely to skip their dental appointments.  

Statistics show that while more than 20% of dentally anxious Americans don’t visit the dentist regularly, around 15% of anxious patients avoid dental care altogether. Whether a traumatic experience or your fear of pain prevents you from receiving the care you need, we’re here to help you reduce your dental anxiety.  

Knoxville TN Dentist dealing with an anxious patient

Practical Strategies to Reduce Dental Anxiety

Find the Right Dentist

Low-quality dental work isn’t just detrimental to your oral health and overall health. For this reason, identifying the right dental practice is the first step in minimizing your anxiety. Start by asking around and getting recommendations from family members and friends. It’s also best to look up your prospective dentist’s website or check out patient reviews.

Talk to Your Dentist

Once you’ve found the right dentistry practice, make your dental visit easier by communicating your concerns to the staff and asking questions about your upcoming procedure. The more you understand why you need the treatment and what to expect during your appointment, the less anxious you’ll feel.  

Besides explaining each step from start to finish, your dental care provider will recommend techniques to help you feel more comfortable and relaxed during your appointment.  

Do Deep Breathing Exercises

Deep breathing is an excellent way to relieve stress and reduce dental anxiety. Breathing slower and more deeply from your stomach allows you to signal your nervous system to relax and calm down. Start by closing your eyes while you slowly inhale through the nose. Hold your breath for a few seconds before slowly exhaling through the mouth. Repeating this several times will make you feel calmer and more comfortable during your dental appointment.

Practice Meditation and Muscle Relaxation

Meditation helps promote calmness while sitting in the waiting room or while you’re in the dental chair. Besides helping you focus and reach a heightened state of awareness, meditation allows you to relax your tense muscles even at the dentist’s office.  

First, you’ll need to sit upright comfortably. Next, close your eyes or fix them on a specific object while you consciously try to release your tension. Breathe deeply as you scan your body and notice any sensations. Stay grounded by focusing on your breath when your mind starts to wander. Try practicing meditation for a few minutes before or during your dental appointment.  

Bring a Relative or Friend

If your dentist allows you to have company in the exam room, try asking a family member or friend to join you during your appointment. Their presence and support might help you feel safer and more relaxed.

Listen to music

If the sound of drills and other dental instruments during treatment causes your stress levels to hit the ceiling, you’ll want to block out the noise by wearing your noise-canceling headphones and listening to your favorite songs. Most dentists allow dentally anxious patients to use distraction techniques while receiving dental care.  

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Looking for a Skilled and Reliable Knoxville, TN, Dentist?

If you’re looking for a reliable practice that’s committed to providing high-quality, personalized dental care in a safe and comfortable environment, look no further than Dr. Brian Rich, DMD. Contact our office today to make an appointment.  

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