5 Ways to Reduce Your Dental Anxiety at Your Next Dentist Appointment

Reduce your dental anxiety.

Dental Anxiety Can Happen to Anyone

Studies on the prevalence of dental anxiety have shown that 50-80% of adults experience some level of nervousness or fear during dental appointments, even if it’s only a mild reaction. Roughly 20% cite moderate-to-severe anxiety synonymous with dentophobia, a fear of dentists and dental procedures. 

Wherever you are on the spectrum of dental anxiety, there is plenty you can do to gain control and develop a more positive relationship with dental visits. If you have severe dentophobia that negatively impacts your oral health, seeking therapeutic support from a mental health professional is a proven method of overcoming phobias.

Try these five tips to ease mild-to-moderate feelings of dental anxiety.

1. Schedule your appointment at the right time of the day. 

Before booking an appointment, consider what date and time best matches your upcoming activities and normal daily routine. 

If you’re not a morning person, having to wake up earlier than normal can increase your anxiety levels. On the other hand, if you tend to mull over upcoming dental visits, waiting until the afternoon can leave you feeling much more stressed than seeing your dentist earlier in the day.

You can also ask your dentist’s receptionist when their office is least busy and most quiet and book your visit accordingly. 

Another helpful and fun way to alleviate some anxiety is to schedule your appointment with time to reward yourself with an activity you enjoy. Knowing you have a movie, lunch date, or shopping trip after your visit is really encouraging. 

2. Stay hydrated and have a meal or snack before your visit. 

Dental anxiety can make you feel like you’re not thirsty or hungry even when your body actually is. Rather than relying on your body’s cues, make a deliberate effort to drink plenty of water before your visit and have a meal or snack. 

Hunger can often make people feel more anxious than usual, especially if they have hypoglycemia. However, even people without hypoglycemia can feel nervous and irritable when they go too long without food. Feeling “hangry” is a real thing, and you certainly don’t want to add to your emotional plate when you’re already trying to manage dental anxiety.

3. Blast your favorite music and sing along during your drive. 

Music has a therapeutic effect that’s very effective for people with mild to moderate anxiety. Listening to music while you get ready for your appointment and during your drive can ease stress and lift your mood, especially if you listen to uplifting or nostalgic music. 

Take the power of music a step further by singing along to your favorite songs. Singing has a positive effect on anxiety and even lowers cortisol, oxytocin, and endorphins. Studies have shown that singing even boosts the immune system and provides psychosocial benefits when people sing with others. 

A personal carpool karaoke session on your drive to the dentist may feel silly at first, but trust that singing is actually helping your body and mind relax in several ways. 

4. Bring whatever you need to make yourself feel comfortable. 

Kids often bring comfort items, like a beloved stuffed toy, to help them feel more comfortable during dental appointments. There’s no reason adults can’t also bring whatever they need to feel more relaxed and less stressed during a visit to the dentist

Your comfort item might be a person, such as a friend or spouse, that can sit with you during your appointment or simply keep you company during the drive and in the waiting room. 

Other popular comfort items for adults include headphones for music or audiobooks, fidget toys or stress balls, a small blanket to feel warm and cozy, or a comfy set of loungewear and slippers. 

5. Let Dr. Desai know about your dental anxiety at your appointment.

Dentists often quickly pick up on signs that a patient feels nervous but may not directly ask if they have dental anxiety out of respect.

While Dr. Desai will always tailor her care to match a patient’s body language cues that point to dental anxiety, the most effective solution is to be open about your needs if you feel comfortable doing so. 

Dr. Desai is knowledgeable about dental anxiety and dentophobia and knows how best to work with individuals who feel nervous or afraid during appointments. She also gently encourages patients to tell her if she can do anything more to relieve their anxiety. For example, some patients may feel less anxious when they know every step happening during a procedure, while others would much rather not know any details. 

Dr. Desai also provides sedation dentistry, including mild nitrous oxide, moderate oral conscious sedation, and full general anesthesia. Sedation dentistry is very safe and even mild nitrous oxide can be a great way to relieve anxiety during routine checkups or minimally invasive procedures.

Luminous Smiles can change the way you feel about dental appointments. 

Overcoming dental anxiety is most successful when you have a trusted team by your side to support you through the journey.

Luminous Smiles is a renowned Newport Beach dental practice that provides a luxurious dental care experience in a warm, inviting, and private atmosphere. We prioritize patient comfort and are dedicated to helping people with dental anxiety or dentophobia achieve relaxation and confidence during appointments. Empower yourself and take the first step toward a healthier smile today by booking an appointment with Dr. Desai.