Tips to Manage Dental Anxiety

TMJ Therapy, Lilburn, GA

It’s fairly common for visiting the dentist to make people nervous, so if dentist appointments make you break out in a cold sweat, you’re in good company. Maybe you’re worried about what the dentist will find if you’ve been putting off your appointment for awhile or maybe you’re afraid whatever you need done will be painful.

Delaying seeing the dentist will only make whatever issues you may have worse and cause you to spend more time and money and endure discomfort. Scheduling regular visits with your dentist can actually help make the entire process much more relaxing on many levels.

Dr. Harry W. McCool and his team in Lilburn, GA want to give you some tips to help you conquer your fear of the dentist’s chair. Use these helpful hints at your next appointment to ease your anxiety so you can do what you need to do to keep your smile healthy. 

1. Speak up 

Unspoken fears can be worse than when we just speak them aloud and know that others are aware of our feelings and understand them. This can be very comforting. If you’re feeling anxious, make your dental provider aware of your concerns. Dr. McCool will be able to make you more comfortable if he is aware of your fears.

  • Talk to your dentist about your anxiety. When you schedule your appointment, tell the receptionist that dental care makes you nervous and remind the dental staff about your anxiety when you arrive. It can be helpful to share any bad experiences you may have had in the past, and ask for suggestions on how to cope. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes just knowing what is going to happen next during a procedure can help alleviate your fears so ask your dental team to let you know what they are doing as they do it.. 
  • Agree on a signal that will let your dentist know you need to take a break during an exam, such as raising your hand. 
  • If you feel any pain even with a local anesthetic, tell your dentist. Some patients may feel embarrassed about their pain tolerance or don’t want to interrupt a dentist during a procedure.  

2. Distract yourself 

Taking your mind off the exam might seem impossible when you’re so anxious, but there are some techniques you can use that can help you take your mind off of it. 

  • Wear headphones. If the sound of the drill makes you nervous, bring headphones so you can listen to your favorite music or audiobook.  
  • Keep your hands busy by squeezing a stress ball or playing with a small handheld object, like a fidget spinner. 
  • Use your imagination and visualize yourself relaxing at the beach or another “happy place” of your choosing. 

3. Use mindfulness techniques 

Relaxation is a state of mind and sometimes you have to actively try to achieve it. Deep breathing exercises can relax tension in your muscles and relieve anxiety. 

  • Count your breaths. Inhale slowly and then exhale for the same count. Do this at least five times while you’re waiting for your appointment, or during breaks from treatment while you’re still in the dentist’s chair. 
  • Do a body scan. Focus on relaxing your muscles, one body part at a time. Begin with your head and work your way down to your toes. For example, concentrate on releasing tension starting in your forehead, then your cheeks, your neck and down the rest of your body. 

Always keep in mind that Dr. McCool and his team want to help you.  Make sure to be open about your fears so they can help you begin having positive experiences at the dentist’s office.  

If you’re in the Lilburn, GA area and are looking for dental care from a team of compassionate and skilled dental professionals, contact Dr. Harry McCool’s office at (770) 450-4407 or schedule an appointment online today.


Harry W. McCool, DDS, PC
Lilburn, GA Dentist

645 Beaver Ruin Rd NW, Suite A
Lilburn, GA 30047

New Patients (770) 450-4407

Current Patients (770) 381-9320


Monday - Thursday
8:00am - 5:00pm

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