4 Relaxation Techniques to Help Reduce Dental Fear

4 Relaxation Techniques to Help Reduce Dental Fear

Dental anxiety is more than just butterflies in the stomach or a little discomfort with the idea of dental work. It can cause panic attacks, nausea, vomiting, or insomnia. In fact, people who deal with this kind of anxiety may put off having dental work done until there are major dental issues to address. Then, sufferers of anxiety have to handle the increased costs and invasive procedures that stem from the neglect of dental health.

However, those who suffer from dental anxiety can conquer these fears. While dental work will probably never be a favorite way to spend the afternoon, using these techniques can help anxiety sufferers make it through their appointments without falling to pieces.

Deep Breathing Exercises

Deep Breathing ExercisesDeep breathing increases the oxygen in your body and helps release tension. Concentrating on your breathing can also give you a place to focus your mind rather than thinking about how unpleasant your appointment is. Take a deep breath, filling the chest completely with air. Count slowly to five as you inhale. Hold your breath for three seconds, and slowly release your breath for another five count. As you exhale, picture yourself blowing out all the upset feelings and tension that you have about this appointment. Inhale again for another five count, thinking about drawing peace and relaxation into your body. Hold the breath for three seconds, mentally grabbing onto that peace, and release once again slowly. Breathing deeply in this kind of rhythm can slow your heart rate, relax your muscles, and decrease the tension you have in the body.

Have a Signal and Picture Yourself Using It

The fear of lying in the dentist’s chair, helpless and immobile, while the dentist performs painful procedures is what keeps many sufferers of dental anxiety away.  However, having a hand signal to tell the dentist that your anxiety is spiking can go a long way toward keeping the helpless feelings at bay. Be sure that they knows that their respect of your autonomy is going to be key to your getting through the appointments. It may not be enough, though, to simply have a signal.

If the anxiety is really tough, you may need to picture yourself using the signal and the dentist giving you a break from the procedure. Go through this visualization several times before your appointment. When the vision of yourself suffering helplessly pops into your head, replace it with a new picture–a visualization of you using the hand signal, the dentist taking a break, and your being able to eventually complete the procedure after you take a moment to regroup.

Visualization During the Procedure

Visualization During the ProcedureLearn to use your imagination to escape the dentist’s office. Where is your favorite place in the whole world? Have you recently had a wonderful vacation, a fabulous holiday or family event, or a relaxing evening at home? Go back in your mind to that wonderful, special, relaxing place. How did it feel to be there? What did it look like? What could you smell and experience? Try to mentally revisit that place while you are at the dentist. Try to remember and include as many details about the event as you can.

Focusing on the details of the wonderful day can help you mentally escape during your procedure.  Choose a memory that soothes and comforts you while you sit in the dentist’s chair. For instance, thinking about relaxing on the beach or in a grassy meadow is going to be more soothing than remembering a recent trip to ride roller coasters at the amusement park.

Muscle Awareness

You know those knots in your shoulders, the tightness in your stomach, or the tension in your back? All of these can be muscular manifestations of tension, stress, and fear. As you lie in the dentist’s chair, think about each muscle group in your body, starting at your toes. Flex the muscles intentionally, and then focus on relaxing those muscles. The idea is to release every bit of tension in the muscles and have each muscle group be totally relaxed. Move up the legs, to the trunk, shoulders, arms, and neck, until you reach the very top of your head. Don’t rush this process. The idea is to slowly relax every muscle in the body and let the tension just seep away.


If you’ve considered all of these relaxation techniques and still don’t think you can get through a dental appointment, you still have options. Dental sedation in Mesa can help people with extreme anxiety get the care you need. After taking a short, medically induced nap, you’ll wake up with your appointment over.  This is a safe way of getting your dental work done without stress, anxiety, and fear.