What methods do you use to help you relax at the Dentist

What methods do you use to help you relax at the Dentist

  • My Dentist speaks to me and reassures me

    Votes: 26 72.2%
  • Listen to a relaxation CD on my MP3 player

    Votes: 10 27.8%
  • My Dentist has virtual reality glasses for me to wear

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Bring a friend / relative with you

    Votes: 6 16.7%
  • Have a friend / relative in the surgery with you

    Votes: 5 13.9%
  • Have a friend / relative hold your hand

    Votes: 3 8.3%
  • I use Hypnosis

    Votes: 3 8.3%
  • I have sedation

    Votes: 5 13.9%
  • Try and think of something nice

    Votes: 11 30.6%
  • The dental nurse reassures me/ holds my hand

    Votes: 7 19.4%
  • Other (you can leave a post in this thread)

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    36
G

Geraint

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#1
I find firstly having my Dentist speak to me and explain treatments and reassure me helps me feel more relaxed. My main fear is of the drill I find the noise / sound of the Drill unnerving so I have taken to using a Cd walkman / MP3 player with a relaxation Cd - I find listening to the relaxing music helps drown out the noise and helps me relax. All three of my dentists (see my Journal) have been really reassuring and really good at sepaking to me and reassuring me. They have all been quite happy for me to listen to my MP3 player.

In the poll below I have listed a number of different methods I can think of that people may use to help them relax at the dentist, perhaps ther are other methods you may like to share?
 
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D

Dave48

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#2
Iam always afraid of the drill slipping of my teeth and damaging my gum.


Dave.:)
 
vicki

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#4
I've tried most methods over the years, but like most things, what works for one person, doesn't always work for someone else. In my case, it mainly all boils down to trust. It takes a very long time for my brain to realise and accept that the events that happened when I was younger, will never ever happen again. Over the past few years, I have seen several dentists as an NHS patient. Unfortunately the NHS these days seems to attract only newly qualified dentists who almost always move on after a year or two. This means that just as I was maybe getting to the point where a little bit of trust might happen, they left and I'd have to start all over again, so it's taken a long time to make any sort of progress.

Anyway, the things I've tried from the poll are:

My Dentist speaks to me and reassures me
This is absolutely vital for me. I have no way of knowing whether they're going to turn out to be a monster who repeats my bad childhood experiences. Just because they've been nice at one appointment, it doesn't mean that they won't turn nasty at a future one. My childhood dentist performed a sort of 'good cop, bad cop' routine and so things were very unpredictable. I also tend to experience flashbacks, particularly during certain parts of treatment and sometimes routine appointments, so if the dentist is talking, it's far better than silence or just listening to the radio, because I have something to focus on. I need to know what they plan to do, what they're doing as they're doing it and also what they've done when they've finished. If everything happens as they say it will, then it helps me to believe that things might be OK.

I also need to know that they'll stop if I raise my hand, but that sometimes I can't, so I need a break anyway. It really helps to be told this, even if the dentist has said it before. If they don't provide reassurance that they'll stop, then it worries me that they won't (even though they probably will!).


Listen to a relaxation CD on my MP3 player
I tried this during an appointment once but it didn't work for me because I have to know what the dentist is saying. I do quite often listen to relaxation CDs on my iPod the night before an appointment though.

My Dentist has virtual reality glasses for me to wear
I've never seen a dentist who's had these, so I can't comment, but I think I'd still prefer to know what the dentist is doing (even though I have my eyes screwed tight shut most of the time! :rolleyes:).

Bring a friend / relative with you
I tried this once. I took a friend who sat with me in the waiting room. I'm not normally the panicky type, so it was a bit of a shock for her to see me stressing out and it made me feel really self conscious, so I haven't done it since!

Have a friend / relative hold your hand
No, I think I'd be too embarrassed... see above!

I use hypnosis
As a hypnotherapist myself, yes I do use hypnosis and NLP techniques, although I tend to use them before appointments rather than in the actual appointment itself.

I have sedation
No. I had IV sedation in hospital once for a procedure and I didn't get on too well with it, so there's no way I'd try it for a dental appointment. Anyway, I managed a root canal last year without any sedation (although there was lots of shaking and plenty of tears!), so that's the benchmark for me. If it's not going to be any worse than a root canal, I tell myself that I have to cope with it. I do take beta blockers though - just to curb the adrenaline rush a bit!

Try and think of something nice
If only I could! Thinking of something nice for me usually involves spending the appointment glancing between what the dentist is doing (I sometimes take a sneak peak in between my eyes being screwed tight shut) and staring at the door - trying to imagine walking out of it at the end of the appointment! Once or twice I have taken this a step further (during a moment of panic!) and leapt out of the chair! :D :redface:

I quite often bribe myself with a present from the Apple Store online, but this is more of an incentive afterwards than something that I think about during the appointment ;).

The dental nurse reassures me / holds my hand
I've only ever experienced this once and it's not something that I'd find easy to ask for. It's probably a good thing though, because if they did hold my hand, I'm sure I'd probably end up crushing their hand or something! In my experience, most dental nurses only tend to speak to you to call you from the waiting room, so they don't really talk much to you, let alone hold your hand or provide reassurance!
 
kitkat

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#5
I agree with Vicki. Trust and communication is KEY for me. A breakdown of what I've tried and will not try:

My dentist speaks to me and reassures me:
This has been the only effective method in reducing my anxiety. Unfortunately, I didn't meet a dentist who did this until I was about 15 (after going every 6 months to many different dentists since the age of 3). By the time I met her, I was completely terrified of anything and everything. Why people think that lying or just not communicating to children at all, is in their best interest, is beyond me...if I had a dentist honestly communicate with me and attempt to establish some form of trust or at least rapport years ago, I probably wouldn't have this fear! It doesn't have to be anything extravagant. I just need to know what she's doing and what sensations to expect and that she will stop if I give the signal or am in obvious distress (since I don't always assert myself enough to use the signal). I also find it helpful that they encourage to stop them if I have discomfort at each and every appointment. If I am acting fearful in an obvious way, having my dentist address the fear directly helps immensely. I expected it to make things worse but I find comfort in her knowing that I'm scared without having to say so. I think since "the jig is up," I don't feel like I have to hide my fears and that takes a lot of stress out of the equation and helps me relax.

CD/mp3 players/ipods/virtual reality glasses:
Never tried these. I have never had much desire to distract myself in these ways because I need to know what's going on in my mouth at all times. I'm always watching the dentist closely and listening to her explain things to me during a procedure...I'm usually too freaked out to direct my attention anywhere else. I welcome her distracting me with conversation. She likes to tell stories to her dental assistants which works for me and then she will interject with reassurance and warnings as needed. I don't mind a little music playing in the office, I do often find myself focusing on that during treatments and it helps me zone out a little..my office has moved away from music towards mounted TVs in treatment rooms which I don't really care for...they kinda stress me out more instead of distract me, especially when the news is on. I should also note that I've never had a dentist offer virtual reality goggles...but they do sound kind of neat! :)

Bring a friend relative come with you/hold your hand:
No and no. I've never considered these. Now that I'm an adult, the one thing that I love about appointments is that I can go and deal with things ALONE. I'm self-concious about looking fearful (it makes me feel weak or foolish) so I'm not a big fan of moral support. I think it would probably make things worse. I like to keep my fears exclusively contained to the dental staff dealing with me and even then I'm not forthright with it. Part of me hopes it's flagged somewhere in my chart so that they can just read it somewhere and know...most hygienists these days probably wouldn't suspect I'm anxious since I've calmed down a lot. Only my dentist (who has witnessed me freak out a few times) and her assistants at the time would know and if someone else opens up to me about their dental fears I may reciprocate them and share too but that's it.

Hypnosis:
No experience with it...no opportunities for trying it around here as far as I know. If it deals with altering awareness of what's going on, I don't want to try it though. I'm a control freak so I probably would not be very easy to hypnotize.

Sedation:
Not much experience with this...I tried nitrous oxide when I was very young for 4 extractions and don't remember it being a bad experience so I guess it worked fine??? I had iv sedation for wisdom teeth and didn't care for it but I would certainly use it again for another extraction only because I don't think I could cope with it on any conscious level. The control freak in me isn't a fan though and it was very hard to sedate me (as in, I would not physically 'sedate' even though the drugs were in me...I eventually did but it was a real challenge getting there and staying there..I don't know if they messed up the dose or what? Maybe I'm just weird). A root canal I would probably support the use of nitrous oxide...but for fillings, cleanings and just simple things, I'd rather be aware of what's going on.

Try thinking of something nice:
I always tell myself I will do this and then I get there and all I can think is "D-E-N-T-I-S-T" so that never really works out. The best I've been able to do is reassure myself in my head like self-talk/self-reassurance (i.e. "I'm okay, I'm fine, I'm safe, etc."). I've never been able to get beyond that...

The dental nurse reassures me/holds my hand:
Sometimes I wish they would, but they never do. All of my attention is usually on the dentist anyway and I'd rather get the reassurance from her since she's the one doing the work. I had one that was really good at checking in with me by asking me throughout a procedure if I was okay and alerted the dentist to any signs of distress that she noticed. She also explained the sensations as they came up and provided the reassurance as my dentist was in rare form and unusually quiet on that particular occasion. Another time, when I was younger (maybe 9 or 10???), I recall a dental nurse quietly placing her hand on my shoulder during a procedure and that was nice. I remember being shocked by it at first because it was really out of character for her. I figure that I must have looked super stressed out to prompt her to do that. But my experience with dental assistants is similar to Vicki; they call you back from the waiting room and that's about all they do in terms of interaction. I have had a few make conversation with me before procedures to distract me but not very often.
 
Pianimo

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#6
staring at the door - trying to imagine walking out of it at the end of the appointment! Once or twice I have taken this a step further (during a moment of panic!) and leapt out of the chair! :D :redface:
:giggle: That made me giggle!

I've found the replies so far interesting, particularly since they seem to be quite different from both my experience and my preferences!

Firstly, I've never gone to an appointment alone, and don't think I ever could! I go into the room alone, but I always go in knowing there's someone there (my dad) waiting for me when I come out. And they're also someone 'safe'/'on my side' to whom I could leg it if something bad happened! lol

Secondly, in my two main treatment appointments last year (only ones since childhood) there was a nurse there to hold my hand. As I was undergoing IV sedation (and possibly also because it was a high-end, 'spa'-type place?) there were three people in the room - the dentist, the dental nurse assisting her, and another nurse who was there to just look after me. Now, the role was filled by two different people, and the nurse from the first appointment was amaxing, whilst the second one was not great (as soon as I responded to the sedation she left me, whereas the first one - as far as I know - stayed by my side, holding my hand and checking on me throughout the whole, 1.5 hour, appointment). But both times my dentist introduced that nurse as the person there to hold my hand and help me etc. I'd imagine I would be far too embarassed to ask to hold someone's hand, but it was a real help when it was offered, especially as it was all done as if it were just the normal thing to do. It also helped to know that while my dentist was concentrating on my teeth, there was someone else there who was concentrating just on making sure I was ok.

The other answers I ticked were: 'sedation', 'my dentist speaks to me and reassures me', and 'Listen to a relaxation CD on my MP3 player'. I've only just noticed what the last one actually says - and I've never actually listened to a relxation CD! :oops: But I did take my mp3 player to my sedation appointments, and listened to my music. It was comforting to hear music I know and like, but I kept the volume low enough so I could hear everything my dentist said to me - I wouldn't want to be completely shut off either!

In terms of sedation, the only kind I've had (except GA as a child) is IV sedation, and that's what I'm having for future treatment appointments too. For now, I feel I need it - in that I don't think I'd go unless I was having it!

With the dentist speaking to me thing, this is huge for me. Before any appointment starts I ask them to describe exactly what I'm going to hear/feel/smell/taste/see, so that I know what's coming, and therfore hopefully I can manage not to panic when something (e.g. a new taste/smell, or strange feeling, or pain etc) happens. And just generally, the more my dentist reassures me, speaks kindly to me, anwers my anxious questions patiently, asks me if I'm ok, checks I'm not in pain, and so on, the more I feel safe, and therefore able to relax. If I feel I can completely trust my dentist to take care of me, then I no longer need to be constantly 'on the alert'. Of course, anxiety/phobia being what they are, I can't just switch them off and relax. But feeling that the person in charge is on your side makes a big difference.

With the options I haven't mentioned: I've never tried hypnosis or virtual reality glasses. As for thinking of something nice, I agree that it's highly unlikely! For me in particular, becuase I have a mouth phobia and a strong gag reflex, as soon as there is anything going on in there, I can't focus on anything else! (Excpet, perhaps, thinking of ways to get them to stop!) That's why sedation is so helpful for me.

The only other thing I can think of that I do is pray. I believe that helps (or rather, God helps) too!
 
N

norwegianchick

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#7
My dentist talking to me is the most important thing for me. She answers questions that even I know are a bit dumb, but I still want answered just for reassurance. She informs me when something is going to be a bit uncomfortable, that way I know she knows what she's doing and that she's not causing me pain on purpose. She also chats about all kinds of non dental related stuff just to keep me relaxed and responsive. She knows me so well after 6 root canals that she even makes jokes (that I laugh at with my mouth full of dental equipment).

I also enjoy having the radio on in the background, and I listen to my iPod in the waiting room.

I do try to think happy thoughts too: if I feel that I'm getting stressed I start thinking: "it's going to be OK, there are no complications, this is routine, I'm doing fine, my dentist is doing fine, oh, that's a nice song on the radio, I think I'll sing along inside my head"

This works so well for me now, that I'd rather not have sedation.

:)
 
kitkat

kitkat

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#8
I also enjoy having the radio on in the background, and I listen to my iPod in the waiting room.
Never thought about using an iPod in the waiting room. This might be something I have to try. The waiting room is probably where I could use the MOST distraction. I'm plenty distracted in the chair by all of things happening in my mouth. I may even be open to trying an iPod for a cleaning since it's pretty routine and I know what to expect with those. My hygienist normally doesn't communicate with me very much anyway...
 
vicki

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#9
Never thought about using an iPod in the waiting room. This might be something I have to try. The waiting room is probably where I could use the MOST distraction. I'm plenty distracted in the chair by all of things happening in my mouth. I may even be open to trying an iPod for a cleaning since it's pretty routine and I know what to expect with those. My hygienist normally doesn't communicate with me very much anyway...
I never used to use my iPod in the waiting room, but I've started using it as it blocks out a lot of the sensory triggers that send my anxiety sky high. My ideal appointment would be one where I don't have to sit in the waiting room at all.

Sitting in the waiting room, looking at all the other nervous patients and listening to all of the noises that go on in the background just seems to make me more and more tense. Forget about trying to watch the TV or read the out-of-date magazines, 'cause it ain't gonna happen! Then of course, every time a dental nurse comes into the waiting room to collect another patient, I think they're going to call my name :o.

No, I've found that it's much better for me if I listen to my iPod (preferably something quite noisy rather than relaxing - so that it drowns out any background noise :p!) and screw my eyes tight shut, then I don't know what's going on until it's my turn.

It also reduces the chances of me sneaking out of the door and doing a runner down the road before they call me. I did this once and it backfired - my appointment was the first one of the morning and my dentist hadn't yet arrived. I was in that much of a panic that I decided it was time to leave and that they wouldn't notice, so I waited until the receptionists were all busy and sneaked out of the door... only to run into my dentist who was just arriving... oops! :redface::giggle:
 
N

norwegianchick

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#10
It also reduces the chances of me sneaking out of the door and doing a runner down the road before they call me. I did this once and it backfired - my appointment was the first one of the morning and my dentist hadn't yet arrived. I was in that much of a panic that I decided it was time to leave and that they wouldn't notice, so I waited until the receptionists were all busy and sneaked out of the door... only to run into my dentist who was just arriving... oops! :redface::giggle:
I think about doing the runner too, I go "If I'm not happy, I'll just leave" inside my head, but I've never had to do that. It's a way to remind myself that I'm doing it on my own free will, and that no one is making me do it.

Good to know that the runner can backfire, I suspected as much! :D
 
kitkat

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#11
I never used to use my iPod in the waiting room, but I've started using it as it blocks out a lot of the sensory triggers that send my anxiety sky high. My ideal appointment would be one where I don't have to sit in the waiting room at all.

Sitting in the waiting room, looking at all the other nervous patients and listening to all of the noises that go on in the background just seems to make me more and more tense. Forget about trying to watch the TV or read the out-of-date magazines, 'cause it ain't gonna happen! Then of course, every time a dental nurse comes into the waiting room to collect another patient, I think they're going to call my name :o.

No, I've found that it's much better for me if I listen to my iPod (preferably something quite noisy rather than relaxing - so that it drowns out any background noise :p!) and screw my eyes tight shut, then I don't know what's going on until it's my turn.

It also reduces the chances of me sneaking out of the door and doing a runner down the road before they call me. I did this once and it backfired - my appointment was the first one of the morning and my dentist hadn't yet arrived. I was in that much of a panic that I decided it was time to leave and that they wouldn't notice, so I waited until the receptionists were all busy and sneaked out of the door... only to run into my dentist who was just arriving... oops! :redface::giggle:
I never thought about blocking anxiety triggers either! I'm liking the thought of this the more I hear about it! My office is really small and is not particularly good about insulating sounds which is my major anxiety trigger for me. I agree that dental heaven would be an office without a waiting room, I'd rather wait in my car in the parking lot (jamming to my music) and just have them send an assistant out for me...better yet...give me a pager like they distribute at trendy restaurants while you wait and they can just 'buzz' me! :D I usually sit in my car in the parking lot until just before my appointment time to cut out waiting room time but I always end up waiting awhile anyway. However, if YOU'RE late, they cancel you...urrrgh!

Funny story about making a run for it! Lol Maybe the universe was trying to tell you something! My dentist has occasionally wandered out to the waiting room from time to time to retrieve patients or place something out there and I always freakout because I don't expect the surprise encounter! One time she came for me instead of the dental assistant and I didn't take to it very well...I managed to suppress my initial panic til the very start of the procedure (when my panic usually starts but is still manageable) but already being caught-off guard from breaking routine in the waiting room it all just built up too quickly. After that, the flood gates opened and I was a shaking mess. The waiting room experience can make or break an entire appointment...true story.
 
carole

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#12
When I had my last visit to the dentist a few days ago it was like visiting a friend. The receptionist had got a steps cd for christmas from her 13 year old son, and had brought it into work. So for the short time I spent in the reception area we were all bopping away to that. It was so uplifting I could have stayed there all day. The receptionists are all lovely and so friendly I don't have to wait because the way the practice is run you actually go in to see the dentist on time. When you get into the dentist room you don't leave it for any reason until you have finished your consultation. He does everything in there x-rays etc... and when I am injected I stay there until I am numb and he just talks or does a clean. This I like because there is nothing worse than going into the dentist room and then going back out only to have to make that walk back in again. From being in the reception area, to going to the dentist room, and even when I'm in there, the practice is set out in such a way that it is never crowded and I don't hear any noises from anywhere else, drills going etc... It doesn't smell like a dentist either. They take as much of the anxiety out of the visit as is humanly possible, and the dentist that I see is very good at keeping me calm and as relaxed as I can be under the circumstances. I know this is not so much me doing anything as such but it all works for me. I just think about previous visits and how well they went and I tell myself everything will be fine because I trust my dentist.
 
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Surreyvwphobic

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#13
The best experience I have ever had regarding this subject was an unusual but simply amazing place down in Brighton (UK). They have no reception; instead, you walk into a lovely lounge area with sofas drinks and not a dentistry picture or item in sight. You are met by a "key worker" who remains with you for the whole time and becomes your nurse as well as continuing to look after you throughout your entire session in the surgery. Afterwards, this same person stays with you until you are ready to leave. I think this is a superb setup which all surgeries should adopt, as this is so helpful for phobics as well as just plain pleasant for everyone!
 
krlovesherkids777

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#14
Actually humor relaxes me, if they can get me laughing in a genuine way, and make me feel at ease, it goes a long way. a natural humor.
 
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#15
Talking to me, one time my dentist sang to me (badly) she is no singing dentist.
 
Mims92

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#16
I think if they talk to me it helps a little, I sometimes bring music to listen to but one of the best things they could do is just numb me up really well and be gentle. My last dentist was really nice and gentle with me and the hygenists werent that bad. But my recent cleaning at a new office was so painful!! The girl was rushing to get it all done in one sitting and was going really rough. Some people should just not be hygenists.
 

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