General Dentistry |6 min read

10 Simple Ways to Overcome Dental Anxiety

Afraid of the dentist? Try these 10 tips!

Do you have dental anxiety or fear?

You’re not alone!

As many as Opens new tab to Delta Dental website40 million Americans avoid the dentist due to dental anxiety or fear.

But if you’re reading this, chances are you want to overcome your dental anxiety so you can go to the dentist and get the dental care you deserve.

That’s why we have outlined our top 10 tips to help you overcome your dental anxiety.

Give one, two, three, or all of them a try and let us know what worked best for you!

10 Ways to Overcome Dental Anxiety

1. Share your dental anxiety

Communication is key. If you have dental anxiety, tell your dentist or a member of the dental team.

That way, they can adjust your treatment to meet your needs. Sometimes, it can be as simple as taking breaks or explaining what’s next. Whereas other times, they may utilize sedation dentistry methods to help you relax.

And remember, you’re not alone.

Our family dentist, Dr. Bruno da Costa, has treated countless patients with dental anxiety. He helps them overcome their anxiety by first listening to their concerns or bad past experiences and then tailoring their treatments to meet their needs.

Just listen to this quote from one of his patients:

“I’ve worked in the dental industry for a long time, but being chairside with Dr. da Costa was the first time I was able to relax and let him take care of me.”

2. Breathe

What we mean by “breathe” is to focus on your breathing.

First, make sure you are breathing. In stressful situations, you can often forget to breathe. This can lead to your body panicking because you aren’t giving it enough oxygen.

Breathing during your dental appointment is a little different, given the situation with your mouth open. So try to focus on breathing in and out through your nose with slow, regular breaths.

And don’t just wait until you’re in the dental chair to start breathing techniques. You can do it while you’re driving to your appointment, waiting in the lobby, after your appointment, or anytime you feel anxious about the dentist.

At Harmony Dental, we offer aromatherapy, which can help reduce stress, agitation, anxiety, and manage pain. Breathing in a soothing smell will make your breathing techniques 10x more enjoyable.

3. Use hand signals

A Opens new tab to WebMD websitepsychologist who studied dental fear discovered dental anxiety might be a result of feeling not in control. This can stem from not being able to communicate.

To help with this, we recommend using hand signals.

Since it’s hard to talk during a dental appointment, use a hand signal that indicates your dentist to stop what he/she is doing.

You and your dentist can agree upon a hand signal beforehand, so it is clearly understood.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

When children go to the dentist nowadays, it’s typical of the dentist to explain each tool, what it does, what it feels like, and so on.

Why? To ease children’s nerves and give them positive dental experiences.

It’s also typical of a parent to ask questions about a treatment like why it’s needed, what’s expected, and how much it will cost.

So, who’s to say you can’t do the same as an adult? Not us!

At Harmony Dental, we encourage you to ask any questions you have. We want you to feel comfortable and confident in the decisions you make about your oral health.

Additionally, by knowing what’s expected in advance (whether it’s a dental tool or cost), you eliminate the fear of the unknown.

Have a question right now? Send us a message!

5. Block out noise

To help take your mind off the tasks at hand, listen to music or a podcast during your appointment.

Our Beaverton dentist offers headphones

P.S: Those hand signals will come in handy when you or your dentist need to alert each other.

6. Avoid caffeine and sugar before your appointment

Caffeine and sugar can heighten your alertness. Usually, this is great before work, but in this case, you don’t want to heighten your dental anxiety before your appointment.

Instead, consume foods high in protein, which can produce a calming effect.

Here’s a list of foods that can help with dental anxiety:

  • Bananas
  • Oats
  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Dairy products

7. Schedule a time that works for YOU

Having dental anxiety is stressful enough. You don’t need to add unnecessary stress, such as dealing with traffic or feeling rushed or under pressure.

To give yourself the least stressful experience, schedule your dental appointment at a time that works for you.

Our dental office in Beaverton, OR offers early-morning and evening appointment times.

Dr. da Costa with a happy dental patient and a list of benefits in choosing Harmony Dental

8. Find ONE dentist for all your dental needs

A big part of overcoming your dental anxiety is finding a dentist you trust and an office you are comfortable and familiar in.

That’s why we recommend you find a dentist for ALL your dental needs. Don’t just think about what you need right now; consider what you might need or want in the future like cosmetic dentistry.

In doing so, you won’t need to be referred elsewhere for a procedure your dentist doesn’t offer.

Our dentist in Beaverton takes pride in being able to offer all your dental needs under one roof. Dr. da Costa provides general, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry for your entire family.

Click here for a full list of our services.

9. Find a dentist who works within your budget

Is the cost of dental care giving you anxiety alone?

Don’t let costs stop you from getting the dentistry you deserve. If your dentist doesn’t offer a financial option that fits your budget, don’t give up!

Many dentists accept insurance and offer payment plans.

The Harmony Dental team wants to help you receive high-quality dental care without the financial burden. Here are the different financing options we offer:

10. Sedation Dentistry

Last, but not least, if you need more help to overcome your dental anxiety or fear, then sedation dentistry may be your best option.

With sedation dentistry, your body will relax and your mind will be taken off the tasks at hand. You may even be so relaxed you dose off to sleep.

After your dental treatment, you will come to consciousness with very little memory of the procedure.

Sedation dentistry is a safe and effective method to help you overcome your dental anxiety.

Our Harmony Dental patients love this option because it allows them to receive the dental care they need in the most comfortable way possible.

Ready to overcome your dental anxiety?

Give one or all of these 10 tips a try and let us know if they help you!

Looking for a dentist near Beaverton, OR?

Come meet the dental team at Harmony Dental and see if we check off all your boxes.

Dr. da Costa is proud to offer his comprehensive dental care to families in Oregon, including Beaverton, Tigard, Portland, and others.

You can schedule a complimentary consultation by:

One thought on “10 Simple Ways to Overcome Dental Anxiety
  1. You have awesomely explained everything in this article!
    From personal experience, I can say that an option for moderate to severe anxiety is conscious sedation. This includes requiring an oral narcotic a couple of hours before your dental arrangement.

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