Do you experience fear and anxiety before and during a dental treatment? You’re not alone — millions of Americans have dental anxiety or phobias, and may even avoid necessary dental work as a result of their fears.
Dental phobia is a real phenomenon for many patients, but it doesn’t have to prevent you from seeking treatment. You can prepare yourself for the dentist by communicating honestly with your dental team, exploring needle-free dentistry, and building your relaxation tools.
With the help of a supportive dental team, you can feel free to use your most powerful distraction and relaxation techniques with you to the dentist. Choosing what to watch or listen to prior to a dental appointment will not only distract you from some of your anxiety — but also help empower you to feel in control during your appointment. Let’s take a closer look at what might work best for you:
Music: bring Your Favorite Tunes
Are you the type of person who experiences an instant feeling of relief and relaxation when your favorite music comes on? Maybe you already use music as a way to decompress after work or give yourself an energy boost before a social event. If music is your happy place, you’re not alone.
In fact, one study found that music has a direct relaxation effect on our autonomic nervous system — with the outcome that we recover faster from stressful events. The same study found that music also works with your endocrine (hormonal) and psychological stress responses to stress.
So if music is your distraction of choice when awaiting dental work, make sure you’re prepared ahead of time:
- Bring your fully-charged smartphone (or whatever device you play music from) to your appointment.
- Create a soothing playlist ahead of time so you won’t have to search for songs while the dentist is working.
- Plug in your earbuds, and enjoy the stress-reducing effects of your favorite tunes.
Soothe & Restore With TV
Everyone has a different distraction of choice. For some of us, the power of distraction works best while we’re experiencing something we’ve never seen or heard before — our anticipation and curiosity about the outcome keeps us focused on the events on the screen. For others, the opposite is true. In these cases, you might get more comfort from watching some of your favorite TV shows over again.
Studies by Jayne Derrick published in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Magazine have shown that re-watching our favorite shows helps people restore some of their energy levels and self-control after difficult tasks. So in a dental setting, watching a re-run of one of your favorite shows could definitely be helpful.
In other cases, simply distracting yourself with the news or current events from the television can be extremely helpful. If you’re considering the benefits of television for your next appointment, make sure to ask your dentist if TV is a possibility during treatments.
Make the Best of your Time with Podcasts & Audiobooks
Thinking about that bestseller you haven’t gotten the opportunity to read? Envious of your friends who have all listened to the latest podcast? In our busy day-to-day lives, it can be difficult to fit in the time for that growing list of new podcasts to catch up on. The solution? Consider using dental downtime to catch up on what you’ve been missing.
If you’re the type of person who’s happiest while learning, you can definitely help alleviate some of your dental anxiety with a podcast or audiobook. And if you’re especially nervous, consider loading up an audiobook from your favorite comedian so that you can benefit from the relaxation benefits of humor (just try not to laugh out loud during your cleaning!). Make sure that you download your choice before you go to the dentist, remember to bring your earbuds.
Relax and Ease Anxiety with Meditation
Study after study has proven that meditation techniques like mindfulness meditation can ease anxiety, depression, and pain. Luckily, mindfulness meditation techniques are often very simple and attainable even for newbies. For example, simply deepening your breath into your belly and paying attention to your inhales and exhales can be a powerful mindfulness breathing technique.
If you think you might need a little extra guidance to benefit from meditation while at the dentist, consider checking out these resources:
- Insight Timer features a guided meditation specific to dental visits.
- The Headspace app has tons of guided meditations, including some geared for anxiety.
- Calm is a great meditation app that features meditations and relaxing visualizations of various lengths.
Interested in going the meditation app route? There are plenty of great apps to choose from, so make sure to choose your favorite before your next trip to the dentist.
Relaxed, Comfortable Dentistry at Barron Family Dental
At Barron Family Dental, we recognize that many patients go through feelings of fear and anxiety before and during dental appointments. We help our patients with these fears by encouraging the use of headphones during an appointment — and even featuring a TV in our treatment rooms.
But beyond distraction, we help our patients work through their anxiety by providing compassionate, kind, and professional care. If you’d like to schedule a dental appointment with us, please get in touch today.