If you get anxious at the thought of going to the dentist, maybe you can find some comfort in knowing that lots of people do. But whether it's the fear of needles, the sound of the dental drill, or fear of the unknown, there are relaxation techniques you can practice to help calm both your body and mind when you find yourself sitting in the dental chair.
Before the date of your dental appointment gets too close, begin using positive imagery to help yourself prepare. Take a few minutes each day to imagine different aspects of your trip to the dentist's office. Start by picturing yourself sitting in the waiting room. It may take a few days, but once you feel comfortable with that thought, move on to imagining yourself lying back in the dental chair.
Next, visualize the dentist working on your teeth. Replay these thoughts in your head for several minutes every day until the day of your appointment finally arrives. You may still feel a little nervous, but having rehearsed the situation many times in your mind should help to relieve some of your anxiety.
Deep Breathing Exercises
Paying attention to how you breathe can help you relax. Release tension before the dentist begins by taking a few minutes or even a few seconds to do breathing exercises. Deep breathing exercises tell your body to calm down, which will slow your heart and respiratory rates and lower your blood pressure as you sit in the dental chair.
Close your eyes and focus on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you breathe in, let your lungs fill with air. You should see your abdomen rise, not your chest. Make your throat slightly tighter as you exhale. Continue to concentrate on taking slow, deep and steady breaths during the exam or dental procedure.
Visual imagery can help calm you by taking your mind off what is making you feel nervous or stressed. With your eyes closed, picture yourself doing an activity you enjoy and find relaxing. Whether it's horseback riding, hiking, or swimming at the beach, focus on the details of the images playing in your head. By distracting yourself with positive thoughts, you may find that you feel less anxious. You will think you are experiencing the activity you are imagining instead of having the dentist work on your teeth.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
With progressive muscle relaxation, you can imagine the tension draining out of your body as you sit in the dental chair. Start at your toes and work your way up to your jaw, tensing the muscles and then relaxing them.
Breathe in each time you tense a muscle group, relaxing those same muscles as you breathe out. Feel your body relax as you exhale. Once you complete the progression, you may find it hard to feel anxious when your body is physically relaxed.
If you're someone who gets nervous at the dentist, make sure you let the receptionist know this when you make your appointment. Many dentists, like those at Family Dental Center TriCities, PC, are used to working with nervous patients and have strategies to help calm your nerves.