4 Coping Techniques for Dental Visits


If the thought of going to the dentist makes you feel anxious, you’re not alone. WebMD reports 5-8 percent of Americans avoid scheduling dental checkups due to fear. And about 20 percent of Americans will see the dentist only when absolutely necessary.

Consider four coping techniques to make dental visits easier:

1. Communicate fears – Discuss concerns with your dentist. Review dental health treatment and ask questions to understand what the dentist will do when working on your teeth. (People with dental insurance, tend to schedule checkups more frequently. Learn four reasons to invest in dental insurance benefits.)

2. Create distractions – Before the dental appointment, think about pleasant memories you can focus on, or bring your favorite music to help you feel calm.

3. Cope with pain – There are many medicines and techniques available to help ease the pain associated with a dental visit. Ask your dentist about:

  • Laughing gas (nitrous oxide) – Commonly used to help patients relax. It wears off quickly once the gas is turned off.
  • Electronic anesthesia – An alternative to an injection into the gums. A small battery-powered unit creates a mild tingling in the affected area. It’s not recommended for all procedures, so ask your dentist for details.
  • Topical anesthesia – It’s applied with a cotton swab to the gums to numb the tissue before the anesthetic is injected.
  • Intravenous sedation – This is an option for patients extremely stressed about dental visits. An IV with tranquilizer medication, inserted into the patient’s vein in the arm or hand, helps block anxieties. Patients usually are awake, but relaxed and not experiencing pain.
  • Hypnosis – Similar to meditation, hypnosis allows people to feel extremely relaxed.
  • Acupuncture – A trained professional inserts needles into certain locations in the body, called acupoints, causing the body to release endorphins to relieve pain.

4. Practice relaxation techniques – When feeling stressed, the body produces adrenaline. As the brain becomes sensitive to pain, muscles may tighten and breathing may become more rapid. Research shows relaxation techniques can slow down the rush of adrenaline. It helps to breathe deeply, focus on relaxing every muscle in the body or recall a pleasant experience.

When moving to a new city or changing employers, it’s important to find a dentist you trust to take care of your oral health. Review these tips.