woman relaxing before dental appointment


Many of us suffer from dental anxiety.


In fact, 1 in 5 people experience some degree of moderate fear, anxiety or unease during their treatment.


Fortunately, there are some coping strategies for nervous patients that actually work. Here are seven techniques that you can try before and during your dental treatment that will calm your nerves and help you to relax. 

Talk to Your Dentist Ahead of Time


Your dentist is no stranger to dental phobia.


They treat patients every day who suffer from all levels of anxiety. But if they don’t know that you’re nervous they won’t know to treat you any differently.


That’s why it’s important to talk with your dentist ahead of time regarding your fears and concerns. This gives your dentist time to figure out what is needed to help you relax during your treatment.


And today, there are a number of options that your dentist can use to calm your nerves during treatment, like changing the position of the chair, using cues, as well as sedation options for more advanced procedures. 

Exercise in the Morning


Going to bed feeling anxious can spike your cortisol levels, causing you to wake up with a racing mind.


If you wake up with a sinking feeling in the morning, those negative feelings are only going to escalate throughout the day, unless you find a way to relax your mind.


To simply calm those morning jitters and start your day off in a more relaxed state, try exercising as soon as you wake up. Getting as little as 10 minutes of exercise can begin to stimulate the anti-anxiety effects and improve your overall mental state throughout the day.


Best of all, you don’t need a gym membership to do it. A quick jog around the block or an online exercise class will be enough to help reduce your anxiety and improve your mental state.  

Listen to Music Beforehand


You can also release some of that stress through music.


Slow tempo classical or instrumental music can help quiet your mind, decrease stress levels and slow down the heart rate. Sounds of rain, thunder and nature sounds can also have a similar effect.


So if you’re feeling nervous on the way over, put on a pair of headphones and listen to some relaxing music. The calming sounds will help to relax your body and release any tension that you are experiencing.  

Distract Yourself to Beat Anxiety in the Waiting Room


Even those who don’t experience any anxiety beforehand can become nervous in the waiting room.


The dental sounds, bright lights, and wait times can easily increase anxiety levels and trigger a fight or flight response. To combat these sudden emotions, you’ll need to distract yourself until your name is called by doing something you enjoy.


This could include reading a novel, organizing the photos on your phone, chatting with friends or starting up a conversation with someone else in the room.


Anything that will help you pass the time and make the experience more positive. 

Wear Noise Cancelling Headphones in the Chair


Does the sound of the drill give you chills?


You’re not the only one.


Fortunately, you can block out any of those nerve-wracking sounds during your treatment with noise-cancelling headphones.


Ask us about our Bluetooth headphones, you can pair to your phone or watch Netflix in our dental chairs!

Try Utilizing Visualization Techniques


Picturing yourself in an enjoyable environment is an effective way to calm your nerves.


If you find that it’s hard to focus on these types of images with all the sounds happening around you, try listening to an online meditation video through your headphones.


These “talk-down” recordings are designed to reduce stress and relax the body and mind at the same time.  

Create Some Cues


Your dentist wants your experience to be a positive one.


If your gums are sensitive or your gag reflex is weak, create some cues with your dentist that you can use to signal you feel pain or need a break. This way your dentist will know what you’re feeling throughout your treatment and be able to respond in a way that makes the experience more comfortable for you. 


Being afraid of going to the dentist can impact your quality of life and have an adverse effect on your oral health.


It’s important that you talk to your dentist about your fears so that they can recommend a solution that will help during your visit. 


At Costello Family Dentistry, our goal is to make your experience a positive and comfortable one. Our team is more than happy to listen to your concerns and come up with a positive solution that will help you to feel more at ease during your visit. Contact us today.

Dr. Shahrooz Yazdani

Dr. Shahrooz Yazdani

Dr. Shahrooz Yazdani has helped to restore the smiles and self-confidence of countless clients since opening Yazdani Family Dentistry in 2001. As CEO and Director, he has amassed thousands of hours of comprehensive training and real-world experience in his decades-long tenure. Dr. Yazdani is deeply passionate about his work, family, and making the most of life itself.

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