This month many people won’t blink an eye at vampires, zombies, ghosts, and other things that go bump in the night – and come to their doors seeking candy. Yet they may be more scared than they care to admit at the thought of coming to the dentist. If you are one of those people, we’re committed to helping you overcome your dental fear.

If fear keeps you from seeing us for routine dental care like exams and cleanings, you risk having small dental problems become larger and more complex ones that will require more extensive treatment. While we can easily repair a small cavity with a simple filling, a larger cavity will require a crown – which will require us to remove more tooth structure. Left untreated, decay can get inside your tooth and cause an infection. It will need to be removed with a root canal. If the tooth is too damaged by infection to repair, it will need to be extracted

Our team is highly experienced at helping our patients overcome dental fear. We’re happy to work with you so that you become more comfortable with your dental appointments. Here we’re sharing eight tips that patients often find helpful for lessening their anxiety. If you have questions about our tips or need to make an appointment, call 334-600-1423.

Schedule Your Appointment Early in the Day

It’s easy to become stressed the longer you worry about what might happen at the dentist. Many patients find they are less fearful if they get their appointment out of the way early in the morning. We offer appointments beginning at 8 a.m. As a bonus, our office is often less busy at that time of day.

Talk to Us About Your Dental Fear

We encourage you to share all of your concerns with us, as well as any past experiences that have led you to become fearful at the dentist. This can help us develop strategies that can help. For instance, if needles make you nervous, we can use a topical numbing agent so you won’t feel anything if we need to administer local anesthesia for a procedure. If you’ve experienced difficulties becoming numb, you can receive dental sedation.

Ask for a Longer Appointment

We are happy to offer you a longer appointment to lessen your dental fear. This gives us time to carefully explain your treatment and answer all of your questions. Many patients feel less dental fear if they understand exactly what will happen. A longer appointment also allows us to take a short break if you need one. We’ll agree on a signal, such as a raised hand, so that we’ll know if and when you need a break.

Practice Deep Breathing or Other Calming Exercises

Many people find it calming to breathe deeply and count each breath. When you breathe deeply, it lowers your heart rate and reduces tension. It also signals your brain to tell your body to relax. You can practice deep breathing right before your appointment begins. During your appointment you can remain calm by concentrating on all of the muscles in your body, then relaxing different groups one by one.

Tune Out Sights and Sounds to Lessen Dental Fear

Our treatment rooms have TVs and headphones. So you can tune us out while we work. If the sights and sounds of a dentist office bother you, you can close your eyes and listen to relaxing music.

Breathe in a Soothing Scent

Some people find the use of essential oils a good way to relieve dental fear. Research shows they encourage a biochemical reaction similar to one caused by anti-anxiety medications. One of the most popular is lavendar. It affects the part of your brain that is connected to emotional response and memories and calms the nervous system. Other oils that are popular for stress relief include bergamot and clary sage oil.

Think Happy Thoughts

It often helps to focus on the positive outcomes of your procedure. For example, if you’re receiving a dental cleaning, you can think about how clean and fresh your teeth will feel and how great they will look. Congratulate yourself on proactively fighting cavities with a professional cleaning.

Ask to Receive Dental Sedation

If you use some of these strategies and still feel dental fear, you can receive sedation. We offer two kinds, so you’ll be able to get the level of relaxation you need. Neither of them involves needles. Your choices are:

  • Laughing Gas – You’ll almost immediately notice a relaxed sensation when you  breathe this in through a small mask over your nose. We can easily adjust the amount you receive during treatment if necessary, to give you more or less. It wears off so quickly that you’ll be able to drive yourself home.
  • Oral Sedative – If you’d prefer to be more deeply relaxed, we can provide you with a safe prescription pill. If you take it at home, you’ll arrive at your appointment already relaxed and stay that way throughout your treatment. You will need to arrange for a ride home as the effects will linger for several hours.

To make an appointment for stress-free treatment, call us today at 334-600-1423.