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Going to the dentist & how to relax

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  1. If the thought of visiting the dentist for even routine exams brings on anxiety, you’re not alone. As much as one-fourth of the population avoids going to the dentist due to fear.1 But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re ready to make a change, try these tips for relaxing before and during your visit.

Dig down to the root cause

Start by understanding the cause of your anxiety. For example, many people associate the dentist with pain, and that worry can be compounded by a fear of needles. Others develop anxiety because they feel helpless or feel that they have no control over the situation once they’re in the dentist’s chair. Still others dislike the sensation of having dental tools in their mouth, or having the dentist and hygienist “invade” their personal space.

Apply a soothing solution

Once you know what triggers your apprehension, you can start trying out solutions. Here are some methods that many people have found helpful:

    • Bring headphones and listen to your favorite tunes. This will help you tune out any disconcerting noises, such as dental drills. Plus, music has a scientific link to happiness. (See our Health of Happiness story for more on that.)
    • Don’t schedule an appointment on a day when you’re likely to be stressed anyway — like when you have a major meeting at work or an intense family schedule.
    • Talk with your dental team. Make sure they understand how you feel, so they can adapt to make you as comfortable as possible. That includes discussing options for controlling discomfort during or after your visit.
    • Ask questions to make sure you understand what’s going to happen, and ask the team to explain each step as they go through the procedure.
    • Express any concerns or discomfort you have during the procedure. Consider agreeing on a signal you can use if you need to ask the dentist or hygienist to stop what they’re doing.

If the potential cost of dental care is adding to your worry, CareCredit can offer peace of mind with special financing options* that let you fit needed treatment into your budget. Learn more or find a dental practice near you that accepts your CareCredit card.

* Subject to credit approval. Minimum monthly payments required. See for details.

1. “Trend Watch: Spa Dentistry,” LMT Communications, Inc., posted February 2009,, accessed March 6, 2015

Additional Sources:

“Anxiety,”,, accessed March 6, 2015

“Anesthesia and Sedation,”,, accessed March 6, 2015

“Easing Dental Fear in Adults,” reviewed by Michael Friedman, DDS, WebMD, posted May 22, 2014,, accessed March 6, 2015

“Coping With Dental Phobia,” by Lisa Zamosky, reviewed by Eric Yabu, DDS, WebMD, posted Feb. 15, 2012,, accessed March 6, 2015

“Open Wide and Relax — Really!” by Dulce Zamora, reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD, WebMD, posted June 21, 2004,

All statements and opinions in "Sit Back & Relax at the Dentist" are the sole opinions of the Customer Communications Group and not those of CareCredit. The content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual medical provider with respect to any professional advice presented. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms.

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