In this BLOG, I’m going to do a training on how to alleviate dental anxiety without medications or resorting to sleep dentistry. I’ll talk about calming practices and remedies you can use and do before, during, and after your dental visits. I’ll discuss natural treatments as well as things you should avoid. This can make a huge difference in the way you feel in general, but especially having you keep your dental visits so you have not just good oral, but better overall health as well.
Feel Anxious Going to the Dentist?
There are various reasons that people are anxious going to the dentist. There could be a negative past experience and the smell of a dental office causes immediate stress. Some people are afraid of local anesthetic injections and fear pain. Some don’t like the sound of the drill. Others don’t like feeling numb. While the treatment plan can feel overwhelming with time loss from work and unexpected financial impact, what are the risks and is the proposed dental work the right option? These are all justifiable reasons that people cancel appointments, come late, change minds about what was scheduled, or can’t get numb while sitting white knuckled in the chair. Avoiding treatment or sitting through a procedure where you’re jumping out of your skin is unhealthy for your oral and systemic health. It’s the fight, flight, or freeze reaction that hijacks your amygdala, the center of your brain that responds to emotional stress.
What Can You Do to Help?
#1. Make sure you are well hydrated for several days prior to your appointment. Drink 6-8 glasses of pure water. Stay away from alcohol that can block your antidiuretic hormone causing you to urinate more frequently.
#2 Avoid caffeine altogether the day before and day of your appointment. This includes coffee, colas, chocolate and certain teas. Caffeine-free teas such as Chamomile and Passion Flower can be relaxing as well as hydrating. Caffeine not only can speed up your heart rate, it increases cortisol levels which can remain elevated for up to 18 hours. Combine that with the stress you are feeling and your blood pressure may go up. which brings me to the next tip…
#3 Stay completely away from sugar and processed foods. This causes insulin levels to spike and then drop contributing to anxiety. Instead, make sure you eat whole foods and foods that are tryptophan-rich that convert to serotonin, the feel-good hormone. Food like turkey, salmon, lamb, mozzarella cheese and for vegans – tofu, whole grains, cacao, and seaweed.
#4 Practice deep breathing. Try this: breathe in slowing through your nose deep into your lungs. Do this to the count of 4. Hold this breath for the count of 4 and slowly breathe out through pursed lips for the count of 4. Repeat for 4 more breaths. Do this in the dental chair as often as you need to.
#5 Watch funny shows. Laughter is the best medicine. Turn off the news and see how much better you feel. Many dentists have TVs going in every operatory or reception area. You may not be able to change channels or silence it, but you can do the next thing…
#6 Bring relaxing music with earbuds that can also drown out the unpleasant sounds of the drill. Stick to music that you like and is calming to your nerves.
#7 Get a good night’s sleep. Turn off cell phones and routers. Avoid eating before bedtime. The sedating effects of essential oils of lavender, bergamot, ylang ylang or frankincense are great to put a few drops on your pillow. We also used lavender to put on the patient bib, so bring it with you. The herb, Valerian root can help calm the nervous system and improve your sleep. Best to sleep in a cool, dark room.
#8 Get out of your head. Routinely take a walk in nature, exercise, meditate, or practice yoga. It’s not only good for you physically, but emotionally as well. They all help you to be in the moment. Deep breathing is a vital part of this training.
If you find this information valuable, make sure to check out this video where you will learn other self-relaxation techniques that help to calm your mind, achieve balance within yourself, and strengthen your life force.
As holistic dentists, we've recommended products and services that supported our patients’ health for decades. In experiencing our own health challenges from mercury toxicity, we worked closely with many natural, alternative, and integrative health practitioners who aided our recovery as well as our patients’. We built this site to provide you with a simple-to-use, comprehensive, informational, and functional resource for your physical, emotional, and spiritual health & well-being.