While pleasant isn't a word we would use to describe any doctor appointment, there's something particularly cringe-worthy about going to the dentist. Between having someone's dental pick–wielding hand in your mouth for roughly 30 minutes and suffering through X-rays, maintaining your dental hygiene is no walk in the park—and dentists know it.
"I have a great rapport with my patients and they always say, 'I hate coming, I really love you, but I just hate coming,'" said Maria Lopez Howell, DDS, to Women's Health. "I totally get that there's some anxiety involved in needing some treatment and keeping your mouth open for long periods of time and accepting recommendations, and so on." Lopez Howell proceeded to share a few insights that she wishes her patients knew.
They don't expect you to talk back. You may find it annoying that your dentist tries to have a conversation with you during your teeth cleaning, but they don't expect you to respond. "It's like a monologue," she adds. "We don't expect you to talk back. We don't expect you to move your head." A simple thumbs up or thumbs down will suffice.
Don't bother lying about flossing. "Your gums don't lie," she explains. "If your gums are bleeding, if you have some buildup underneath the gums or even above the gums, then it's a sign that you're either not doing it at all or you need to be encouraged to do it in a way that's more effective."
Moving around makes the appointment last longer. They understand that certain procedures are unnerving, but "fidgeting around slows down the whole process," explains Lopez Howell. "Some people bob their knees or just sort of move their legs around and they don't realize that it moves their whole body. "So if we're drilling, we'll pause for a second and wait for them to settle." Keep in mind that there are a lot of sharp tools near your face; focus on your breath to calm yourself down.