Dental anxiety affects a number of Americans to some degree, and while most people who experience it are able to overcome their fears, some are so afraid that it prevents them from getting the care they need. Fortunately, dentists and their staffs are more prepared than ever to help ease the anxieties that affect patients; they offer a number of interventions that can help nervous patients, including sedation. If you are fearful of visiting your dentist, you can also help alleviate these worries yourself both before and during the appointment.
Educate yourself on what happens beforehand
One of the reasons why people are often fearful of sitting in a dentist's chair is the feeling of losing control and not knowing what may be coming next. That is why taking time to educate yourself about what happens in the dental chair can actually be liberating and help you relax. This self-education can take place in several ways, including research online or even observation inside a dental office. However, it is important that you find accurate information, and be discerning in your efforts; otherwise, you could do more harm than good by reading false or sensationalist accounts of dental procedures. If you need help in finding truthful, easy-to-read information, then contact your dentist for recommendations.
Practice progressive relaxation
Progressive relaxation is a time-honored practice that can help alleviate anxiety once you are sitting in the dental chair. The beauty of progressive relaxation is that it can be performed anywhere and is simple to do. Here is a step-by-step procedure you can follow:
Take multiple deep breaths - Inhale through your nose slowly, then exhale through your mouth while silently counting to eight. You should perform at least three to five repetitions of taking deep breaths before moving to the next step.
Close your eyes and position your body as natural as possible - While it may harder to do in a dental chair, try your best to allow your body to lie naturally in the chair without any contortions or bends. Keeping your eyes closed will help remove distractions from the outside.
Envision the farthest parts of your body relaxing - Once you are ready, begin to imagine the farthest parts of your body (toes and fingertips) releasing tension into the air. Focus on this experience mentally, and your body will respond by letting go.
Move the relaxation sequence mentally toward your head - After you find your toes and fingers feeling relaxed, begin to slowly move the focus on to neighboring parts of your body. Repeat the same pattern of relaxation in your mind for each part of your body, and only move on to the next part after you have achieved relaxation.
Finish the progressive relaxation sequence - When your body has achieved an almost complete state of relaxation, you will find it has all-but-eliminated concerns over your appointment status. Feel free to repeat progressive relaxation as often as necessary during the appointment.
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17 November 2016