Managing your fears during consultations

Communicate with your dentist. The basis of any good doctor-patient relationship is effective communication. Talk to your dentist before, during and after the procedures can help minimize your fears.

Talk to your dentist prior to the procedure about any fears or concerns you may have. You can also ask him to explain the procedure before getting it.

Ask him to keep you informed throughout the consultation. Remember that you have the right to know what is happening.

Create a road map of the procedures that scare you. Facing a fear can cause anyone to lose confidence and avoid a situation. Use the behavioral tactic of creating a road map before your appointment to help you engage in frightening situations and minimize your fear of a dentist.

Creating a roadmap is a technique in which you create and follow a plan for a specific situation. For example, if you are afraid of cleaning your teeth, create a road map and develop a plan that will allow you to have the command of the query. Think about what you could say in response to any questions or situations that may arise during it.

Framing dental procedures in simple terms. If you fear visiting a dentist or a specific procedure, frame them in simple terms. Framing is a behavioral technique that can help you shape the way you think and feel about specific situations, making them commonplace and banal.

If you are afraid to go to an appointment clean your teeth, you can reframe it as “this is a quick procedure, like brushing teeth.”

Working with smaller, more manageable units can help you overcome all fears.

Adopt relaxation techniques. Relaxation can help you have a more enjoyable experience at the dentist and minimize your fears. From exercise to breathing medication, there are different relaxation techniques that you can use to manage your fears.

Many dentists suggest the use of nitrous oxide, sedatives or anti-anxiety medications, such as alprazolam, to help you relax during your consultation.

Some of them may provide anti-anxiety medications prior to your consultation if you are very nervous.

If you take any anti-anxiety medication that was not prescribed by your dentist, let him know before starting treatment to ensure there are no potentially dangerous interactions between medications.

Be aware that using these medications during a procedure may be more expensive and the dental insurance may not cover you.

Try breathing exercises to try to relax. You can breathe rhythmically at a count of 4 seconds of inspiration at 4 seconds of expiration. If it helps, think of the words “going” as you inhale and “pass” when you breathe out to help your mind release its fear.

If necessary, double the amount of your relaxation techniques.