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gailcalled's avatar

How do I keep myself calm in the dentist's chair?

Asked by gailcalled (54575points) October 21st, 2007

I am usually pretty good about not getting panicking in med. situations. But, I grew up in a pre-novacaine era and have some sort of PTSS – remembering a slow, noisy, escruciatinly painful drill and my fingernails digging into my palms when I was a teen-ager and chewing bubble gum all the time.

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14 Answers

gailcalled's avatar


jrpowell's avatar

Does your dentist offer nitrous oxide? Between that and my iPod I actually enjoy trips to my dentist.

gailcalled's avatar

Unfortunately no. He never hurts me; it is all in my head.

sjg102379's avatar

I second the Ipod/CD player idea. I don’t like anesthesia, so any time I have a medical procedure, I’ve always just put on some pre-selected music, shut my eyes, and pretended I wasn’t there.

Jill_E's avatar

Perhaps, daydream about being on the beach or being at your most favorite place in the world. And think “It is only temporary, and its for the health of my teeth”

And think of a reward you will do or go after the dentist. Daydream about where you will go next after the dentist to kill time.

skfinkel's avatar

I do breathing exercises, a la yoga. Deep breaths, relaxing. Focusing on my brain and the various images that pop up.

hossman's avatar

I pretend the arms of the chair are the dentist’s reproductive organs. When he hurts me, I hurt him. Silly, I know, but it works for me. I was gonna be squeezing the chair arms anyway.

robmandu's avatar

Find another dentist. Many will offer videos/music that you can enjoy while they work. If you happen to be non-responsive to novacaine (or perhaps it doesn’t kill ALL the pain), then ask about alternatives. So…

1) find a dentist that offers some kind of distraction to take your mind off things


2) if pain management is an issue during fillings/crowns/whatever, find a dentist who won’t shrug off your real and legitimate discomfort.

Poser's avatar

And if all that fails, a bottle of your favorite liquor couldn’t hurt.

Not to drink, but to bash the dentist over the head if he hurts you.

joli's avatar

Take each minute as it comes. I’ve worked for over 300 Dentists and I’ve noticed the ones who chat lightly with the assistant and the patient get through the procedure with grace and ease. I try to find a subject the patient is interested in and use it to keep them distracted. You can distract yourself by remembering to breathe, keeping your body relaxed and moving through it as if in a dream. Place your thoughts distant, or focused, whichever works best for you. You’re a person, not an object, and so are those two people working on your teeth, so connect with them in a positive manner. What other animals on earth are so sophisticated as to repair each other’s teeth! If you place your trust in the Dentist, and let him do his work, you can relax and he can do a better job as well.

gailcalled's avatar

My hygienist and dentist don’t cause me pain. They are considerate and check in w. me regularly during the procedure. My issue is remembering old pain..

I ask them to turn off the canned music so I can llsten to my own. Their chatting drives me personally mad and I wish I had the nerve to tell them to shut up. I am able to breathe properly and keep myself from getting clenched up if it is quiet. And there is nothing quite so annoying as being asked a question while my mouth is stuffed w. equipment and suction hoses and cotton rolls.

@joli: 300 dentists? Good gracious?

joli's avatar

300 Dentists? Variety is the spice of life! I’m surprised you in particular hate us so much, but I get it. I imagine you may be annoying the Dentist as much as you perceive us to be annoying you!

gailcalled's avatar

I think that my dentist and my hygienist are pros and do a wonderful job of both prevention and repair. I am a good patient and pay my bill before I walk out the door. No one hates anyone…As I said, I am talking about the internal feelings of panic I get, that are not connected to present reality but to old memories. I personally do better when there is no non-tooth related talk. I have used this practice for 21 years.

I take my hygienist out to lunch during her lunch breaks and time my cleaning app’ts appropriately. Then we chat and gossip and catch up, when all I have in my mouth is a few beans or carrots.

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