Conquer Holiday Dental Anxiety: Expert Tips from a Dental Surgeon

Dental Surgeon’s Advice: Managing Dental Anxiety During Busy Holidays

photo dentist picking up utensil for teeth

The holiday season, with its joyous celebrations and gatherings, can also be a time of heightened stress and anxiety. For many, this includes dental anxiety, which can be exacerbated by the busy and sometimes overwhelming nature of the holiday period. As a dental surgeon, I’ve seen firsthand how this time of year can affect patients. Here are some strategies to manage dental anxiety, especially during the bustling holiday season.

Understanding Dental Anxiety

Firstly, it’s important to recognize that dental anxiety is a common issue. It can stem from various factors such as past traumatic experiences, fear of pain, or the feeling of loss of control. The holiday season, with its added stressors, can often intensify these feelings.

Scheduling Your Appointment Wisely

Timing can play a crucial role in managing anxiety. If possible, schedule your dental appointment at a time when you’re less likely to be stressed. For some, this might mean an early morning appointment before the day’s responsibilities begin piling up. For others, a mid-afternoon slot, when they’re more relaxed, might be ideal.

Communicate Openly with Your Dental Team

One of the best ways to alleviate dental anxiety is open communication with your dental care team. Let them know about your fears and concerns. Most dental professionals are trained to help anxious patients and can adjust their approach, like explaining each step of the procedure, to make you more comfortable.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

Practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques before and during your appointment can be highly effective. Deep breathing exercises, for example, can help manage anxiety. Some patients find it helpful to meditate or listen to calming music before their appointment.

Consider Sedation Options

For those with severe dental anxiety, sedation dentistry can be a solution. This can range from mild sedatives to help you relax, to more profound options like IV sedation, depending on the severity of the anxiety and the dental procedure involved. Discuss these options with your dentist.

Visit the Dental Office Beforehand

Familiarizing yourself with the dental office environment before your actual appointment can reduce anxiety. Most dental offices will be happy to arrange a brief visit so you can meet the staff and see the treatment area.

Distractions During the Procedure

Distractions can be a powerful tool. Some dental offices offer TVs or music during procedures. Alternatively, you might focus on a stress ball or a handheld object. The key is to find something that shifts your focus away from the procedure.

Aftercare and Rewards

Plan a relaxing activity or a small reward for yourself after your dental appointment. This positive reinforcement can make future visits seem less daunting.

Remember the Importance of Oral Health

Finally, remind yourself of the importance of maintaining good oral health, particularly during the holiday season, when we tend to indulge in sweets and treats. Regular dental visits are crucial for preventing more severe issues down the line.


Managing dental anxiety, especially during the high-stress holiday season, requires a combination of strategies, self-awareness, and open communication with your dental team. Remember, it’s okay to feel anxious, and there are many ways to make your dental experience more comfortable. Your oral health is a gift worth giving yourself, this holiday season and beyond.

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