Overcoming Dental Anxiety: A Guide to Relaxation Techniques During Your Dental Appointment

by | Apr 30, 2024 | Blog Posts

Overcoming Dental Anxiety: A Guide to Relaxation Techniques During Your Dental Appointment

According to the Journal of Dental Hygiene, over 50% of adults experience some form of dental anxiety.[1] They avoid routine dental care, increasing their risk of developing potentially serious oral health conditions. Some of these conditions can even lead to the need for removable dentures or dental implants.

Experiencing nervousness before a trip to the dentist is normal for many people. Whether it’s brought on by the sounds or smells or the feeling of being stuck in the dental chair, thousands of people suffer from dental anxiety.

Regardless of the cause, your dental team will be mindful of your fears and do their best to keep you comfortable. Whether you’re having a routine exam or getting an artificial tooth, knowing a few techniques to help you manage your anxiety while visiting the dentist is helpful.

Relaxation Techniques to Manage Dental Anxiety

You may never look forward to dental treatment. However, these techniques can ease your dental fear and help you get through your appointment.


One of the most effective ways to relax during dental appointments is to communicate and ask your dentist to communicate with you. It can help you build trust and confidence with your treatment team.

Having your dentist discuss each step of the appointment will help ease your nerves because you’ll have a better idea of what to expect. Never be afraid to ask questions to help you gain a better understanding. This will help you feel less anxiety.

Distractions are Key to Managing Dental Anxiety

Sometimes, having a distraction available can relieve your anxiety. Ask your dentist beforehand what is appropriate to bring into the treatment area. Many dentists allow you to wear headphones and listen to music. Others have a television available so you can watch TV or a movie.

Bringing a friend or relative can also calm your mind. Your dentist may allow someone to accompany you into the treatment room. Even if you cannot converse with them throughout the procedure, their presence may make you feel more comfortable and relaxed.

Breathing Exercises to Manage Your Dental Anxiety

Deep breathing exercises can help stop your racing mind and induce calming feelings. These exercises increase the oxygen in your body, helping alleviate tension. Concentrating on your breathing also gives you something to focus on rather than worrying about treatment.

You can do a breathing exercise by taking a deep breath, counting to five as you inhale slowly. Hold your breath for three seconds before releasing your breath for another five counts. Some patients find it helpful to imagine that they are releasing all of their unpleasant feelings about their appointment.

Repeating this process throughout treatment can slow your heart rate and relax your muscles. As a result, you’ll decrease the tension throughout your body, helping you feel calmer.

Meditation and Muscle Relaxation to Calm Your Dental Anxiety

The tightness in your stomach or chest just before your appointment is often a sign of fear. You can manage this tension by meditating and thinking about each muscle group in your body, beginning with your toes.

Shut your eyes and slowly tense each muscle before letting them loosen again. This method helps relieve tight feelings and puts you in a relaxed state. Take your time with it; start at your toes, move up into your legs, and work through your body up to your head. You’ll notice the stress begin to disappear.


Using your imagination can help you manage your stress in the dental office. Imagine a place you love. It can be a favorite vacation spot or bed under your favorite blanket. Picture yourself there and try to remember how nice it feels.

Get Help Managing Your Dental Anxiety

Overcoming your dental fear isn’t easy, but it’s possible. By using effective relaxation techniques, you can make your experience as comfortable as possible. You’ll get yourself on the path to having good oral hygiene and prevent needing treatment plans that require extensive treatment and artificial teeth.

Start your journey with gentle and compassionate care from Empire Dental Care. Call 585-671-1650 to get started.



[1] https://jdh.adha.org/content/91/1/30

Dr. Cohen has been practicing dentistry in private and public settings for over 10 years, completing her DMD degree in 2010 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Committed to providing dental care of the highest level, Dr. Cohen relocated to Rochester in 2016 to pursue advanced dental trainings at the Dental Urgent Care Fellowship at The University of Rochester, Eastman Institute for Oral Health, graduating in 2017, and the AEGD Residency program in 2019. She recently completed an additional advanced General Practice Residency program at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany NY. This summer she moved back to Rochester with her husband Kevin, a native Rochesterian, to be closer to family. Throughout her career and personal life, Dr. Cohen has shown her genuine compassion and care to people and patients from all walks of life. She volunteered in underserved areas, practiced in clinics for patients with complex special needs, and treated medically compromised patients among others. She also taught and mentored other dentists and students helping them achieve their professional and personal goals. Most of all, Dr. Cohen’s warm personality and love of people create a welcoming, comfortable feeling for both patients and staff.