Tips for Overcoming Dental Anxiety

Hairston Family Dentistry Strives to Make Patients Feel Relaxed

At Hairston Family Dentistry, we strive to make patients relaxed and comfortable, so we offer tips for overcoming dental anxiety. We know going to the dentist may cause anxiety and fear. The fear of the unknown, having the dentist’s hands and loud tools in your mouth, drilling, and extracting all cause dental anxiety. There are also those awkward moments when you have to answer questions while our hands are in your mouth. Your dental anxiety might be to the point where you never go to the dentist. But that can be detrimental to your teeth and overall health.

Our Patients Have Positive Experiences Most of the Time

Your dental anxiety leads to thoughts of worse-case scenarios, but most of the time, our patients have positive experiences. The staff at Hairston Family Dentistry is kind, compassionate, and has your best interests at heart. Any pain you might experience is rare and helped with anesthetic. Dr. Leah Hairston wants you to feel at ease when you visit us. Today, we are offering the following tips for overcoming anxiety.

Recognize that You Have Dental Anxiety

When you try to overcome dental anxiety, you should first recognize that you have anxiety. You might make excuses like you’re too busy, don’t have the money, or don’t have any dental issues. Deep down, though, you know have fears and concerns. Admit to yourself and to the dentist you’re anxious about us extracting a tooth or inserting a needle to numb your mouth. Maybe you’re afraid of the pain or that you might receive bad news when we examine your teeth. You might be concerned about the cost of a checkup or any procedure Dr. Hairston does.

According to Mouth Healthy and the American Dental Association, you should tell your dentist about your anxiety.

“When you book your appointment, tell the receptionist you’re nervous about dental visits. Remind the dentist and dental staff about your anxiety when you arrive. Share any bad experiences you may have had in the past, and ask for suggestions on coping strategies. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes, knowing what is going to happen alleviates any fears of the unknown.”
Source: Coping with Dental Anxiety – American Dental Association (

Practice Relaxation Techniques Before Your Appointment

Once you have an appointment with Hairston Family Dentistry, you should try to relax. Relaxation techniques sometimes make a big difference when it comes to patients overcoming dental anxiety. The day before the appointment, you should try to get a good night’s sleep. You can try praying, doing meditation, controlling your breathing, or visualizing what it will be like after the appointment is done.

Arriving at Your Appointment Early Will Calm You

One way of overcoming dental anxiety is to arrive early at your appointment. Hurrying to your appointment or getting stuck in traffic could increase your anxiety and stress. Don’t put any more stress on yourself than you need to. Make a plan to arrive early so that you can check in, rest, and practice some of our tips. Arriving early will also help you get acquainted with the Ravenswood, WV, office and staff.

Distract Yourself with Texts, Reading, or Listening to Music

Distracting yourself from the impending appointment can help you overcome fear and anxiety. Maybe you can text a loved one or a friend in the waiting room. Read a magazine or a book. Browse social media, or ask your friends or followers for prayers and good thoughts. Listen to music through your headphones. Sometimes, the sound of a drill can be scary to hear for a patient. Combat these frightening sounds by wearing earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones. You could watch a TV program or a sporting event on your smartphone. Distracting yourself can help take your mind off of what’s happening around you and make you feel more comfortable.

Make Sure You Feel Comfortable in the Dentist Chair

When you are in the chair, you want to make sure you’re comfortable. If you’re uncomfortable in the chair, ask our dental team if you can stay in a seated position rather than reclining. If you are afraid of dental injections or extractions, talk to us about having a topical anesthetic before a shot. We might suggest giving you nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or oral sedatives. If you are concerned about your gag reflex or choking, talk to Dr. Hairston about that. We might be able to help. Breathing can sometimes be an issue in the dentist’s office. You can try breathing techniques or wear nasal strips. Agree on a signal with the dentist if you’re experiencing pain or anxiety.

Get Acquainted with the Dental Tools

As you are waiting for Dr. Hairston to come in, your attention might be drawn to the dental tools in the room. When she comes in, ask her about the tools. Ask if you can hold them while she explains what they do. Holding the tools might help them seem less scary or intimidating. Our dentist wants to keep you at ease and know what is going on at all times.

Bring a Loved One or a Friend to Keep You Calm

Sometimes patients feel more comfortable when they have a loved one, friend, or a caregiver in the exam room. You can bring someone who can keep you calm, isn’t afraid of dentists, and will give you encouragement. Having another person there can help if you can’t talk, are in pain, or feeling the effects of laughing gas. The person can communicate your wishes or interpret what you’re saying.

Give Hairston Family Dentistry a call at (304) 273-5301, or follow us on Facebook. Talk to our team today to relax and learn more tips for overcoming dental anxiety.