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Roughly 20% of adults experience dental anxiety. Whether these fearful feelings stem from negative childhood experiences, reduced personal space, or some other factor such as the sound of the drill, they should be addressed so you can have successful visits with your neighborhood dental professional. The following tips can help you remain calm at your next dental appointment.

Bring a Friend or Family Member

When you’re faced with a potentially stressful situation of any kind, bringing someone familiar can help. They can provide you with a conversation partner while you wait, and they can also take valuable notes on follow-up care. If your companion does the driving, you also have one less worry on appointment day.

Talk to Your Dentist

Your dentist’s primary goal is to provide their patients with the dental care they need. Please take a few moments to tell them about your dental anxiety, and be specific about what bothers you most. If the sound of the dental drill gets under your skin, your dentist likely has a few ideas to make you more comfortable. For example, they might let you watch TV while working on your teeth so you aren’t focusing on the drill.

Smiling pretty woman looking at dentist

Use Hand Signals

When you’re under a dental drape and in the midst of a procedure, talking is not possible. As you speak with your dentist, discuss hand signals. You can devise signals to tell your dentist to stop, wait, or continue. You can also write to them if you have something more extensive they need to know.

Listen to Music

Even though dental equipment is relatively quiet, it is not entirely silent. Your local dentist knows this and will often allow you to put in headphones and listen to music or a podcast. Listening to music is a great way to distract yourself during dental work, as long as you can still understand the dentist’s instructions.

Breathe Deeply

Deep breathing can help you harness your body’s natural relaxation response. Inhale slowly while silently counting to four. Then, exhale slowly while silently counting to five or more. With each cycle, try to exhale all your air and feel your stress lessen as you empty your lungs.

Practicing these tips will relax your body and mind, which can help reduce anxious feelings during your next appointment with your neighborhood dentist. Try one (or more) the next time you visit the dentist!