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5 Tips for Overcoming Dental Anxiety

By some estimates, upwards of four in five adults have some level of anxiety over visiting the dentist -- and more than one in 10 delay appointments as a result. The reality? Regular dental check ups are critical to your oral health and hygiene, and dodging the dentist because of fears, anxiety and, even, full-on phobias can lead to long-term issues that extend far beyond plaque and cavities.

If you or a loved one are suffering from dental anxiety, take our advice: schedule an appointment and start focusing on ways to overcome your fears. These five simple strategies will help you prepare and, ultimately, manage your experience in the dentist’s chair so you can commit to the oral care you need now and in the future.

Find the Right Orthodontist Team

Dentists and orthodontists are used to dental anxiety and know how to put patients at ease. Ahead of your appointment, get in touch with the practice and let them know you’re concerned about your upcoming visit. Then, reiterate to the hygienist, dentist, orthodontist and other members of the care team to ensure your needs are met. If it’s helpful, ask that they explain each step of the process before and during so you can be prepared.

Ask for Help

In some cases, more severe dental anxiety can be soothed with added sedation. Many dentists and orthodontists can integrate oral sedation or, in some cases, IV sedation, nitrous oxide and other calming add-ons to keep patients relaxed. Again, speak to your provider ahead of time -- these options may not always be readily available or many require a slightly longer appointment slot.

Plug in

Consider bringing your mobile device or tablet plus a pair of headphones to your appointment. As soon as the cleaning or work begins, plug in and close your eyes. Listening to music or other soothing sounds or narratives -- think books on tape, podcasts and videos -- can help ease anxiety or, at the very least, take your mind off of what’s happening in your mouth. Another option? Many patients opt for noise canceling headphones which drown out any anxiety-inducing sounds.


Practice taking deep, cleansing breaths before your appointment. Once the work begins, concentrate on your breathing -- specifically, on taking slow, consistent breaths throughout the appointment. This alone can help calm your nerves and relax you from the inside out.

Go Early

Many dental appointments are cancelled same-day -- don’t give yourself the out. Instead, opt for an appointment first thing in the morning, so you don’t have time to worry. Get up, get ready and head to your appointment. This is, often, the most low-stress time in general, since you’ll have little to no wait and won’t spend the day thinking about your visit.

Still feeling anxious? Get in touch. The team at Southern Orthodontic Specialists are experts at managing dental anxiety and phobias. When booking your appointment, let us know about your concerns and we’ll create a customized plan to help soothe anxiety and make your visit as comfortable and worry-free as possible.

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