Find Your Dental Zen
If you’re like me, it doesn’t matter if it’s going to keep me healthy—going to the dentist makes me feel nervous. Fortunately, the “dental arts” are about more than the mechanics of teeth, they’re about helping you feel in control of your own experience.
So how can you create that sense of control? Find your “dental zen!” That is, figure out your own method for staying relaxed and feeling good when you visit the dental team at One Community Health. Here are a few ways how:
- Identify the source of the stress. Take some time with your dental care team to determine exactly what makes you feel uneasy. Common sources of stress include noise, temperature, fear of pain, not being in control and boredom. No matter what the issue is, you're not the first person to feel that way, and there is always something that can be done.
- Bring what soothes you. Sometimes the solution is as easy as wearing comfortable clothes, bringing your favorite blanket or, in the case of a child, coming with a beloved stuffed animal to the appointment. Maybe you can bring headphones with your favorite music or podcast to help distract you or bide the time.
- Consider pain-relief options. You may request pain-free topical numbing gel to get “pre-numb” if you’re worried about an injection. Maybe you’d benefit from “laughing gas” or other anti-anxiety medication during dental treatment to help take the edge off.
- Be patient with yourself. Sometimes anxiety is so deep-seeded that you may require extra time or attention to work through it. Fortunately, One Community Health aims to be your “one stop shop” for all things health, so if you need extra help finding your “dental zen” our behavioral health team is onsite and here for you.
For example, if you still can’t put your finger on what makes you anxious or perhaps need strategies to overcome a fear of just being in the dental department, we can arrange for a behavioral health consultant to be present at your appointment. This may be helpful especially if you’ve spent some time with your behavioral health consultant in preparation for your dental visit.
- Use your breath. The connection between your mind and body is strong. Sometimes controlling your body can help control your mind. I’ll leave you with something you can try at home and use as a tool: Focus your attention on your breath, count to four slow seconds as you breathe in, and then count to six seconds as you breathe out. Breathe 10 times this way, focusing on the counting and breath. This causes your heart rate to lower, which in turn makes your mind feel more at ease.
Remember: For every person’s anxiety there is a solution. One Community Health’s dental department is here to help you find yours!
Colin Taggart, DDS
Dentist, One Community Health