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Patient Education

How to Dispel Dental Anxiety

Anxious Woman with a ToothacheOf course, we do what we can to make your visit with us as comfortable as possible. But there are also ways to help yourself deal with any anxiety you may have while anticipating treatment.

  • Positive self-talk. Tell yourself, “I can handle this well.” Make other positive self-statements, especially about tense situations similar to this with which you coped well.
  • Make positive statements about the dental personnel. You’re in good hands. Remind yourself that the doctors and staff are highly qualified, well-trained, and “know what they are doing.”
  • Deep muscle relaxation. Relax your muscles by starting to focus on your forehead. Then picture relaxation flowing down and through your face and downward through the rest of the body. Breathe from your diaphragm by expanding your abdomen. Your navel should rise and fall slowly. Deep/slow breathing (Lamaze technique) calms the nervous system.
  • Distraction technique. Use mental, or “guided” imagery to visualize in detail an everyday task like dressing in the morning. For example, you are putting your blue sock onto your left foot, then the right, then you are putting on your brown shoes. Some people like to imagine that they are on a beach. These images take your mind off what is happening in the dental chair.
  • Focal point. Concentrate on a spot or fixed object. Stare at it and try to imagine your body floating toward that spot.
  • Listen to soothing music. A pair of earphones with your favorite relaxing songs can make a big difference.
  • Exercise beforehand. Twenty minutes of aerobic exercise gives you three hours of relaxation.

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