Many people associate root canals with pain. It's not really a deserved reputation; the root canal itself is performed with a local anesthetic that blocks pain, and the tooth is generally most painful before the root canal is done. But anxiety is not always logical. If knowing that the root canal is going to relieve your pain doesn't quell your anxiety about the procedure, there's quite a bit that you can do to treat that fear.
With dental anxiety becoming more well-known, more people are opting for things like anti-anxiety medication before dental visits or sedation dentistry. But for those who don't want to risk grogginess or other side effects, there are non-pharmaceutical options out there as well.
Learn Meditative Breathing
There are many types of meditative breathing out there. Square breathing is one of the simplest; it gets its name from the four steps involved. As you go through the four steps of square breathing, visualize in your mind that you are traveling around the four sides of a square. Breathe in for a 3-count, hold for a 3-count, breathe out for a 3-count, and hold for a 3-count.
By deliberately focusing on and slowing your breathing, you both distract yourself from your anxiety and keep your heart rate down, preventing panic. However, meditative breathing takes practice, so begin in advance of your root canal so that you are comfortable with it by the time of your procedure. Otherwise, the procedure itself may be too distracting for you to focus properly.
Listen To Relaxing Music
Music can have a great effect on your mood, and many dental offices now keep mp3 players for patient use; even if your dentist doesn't, you should be able to bring your own. Listening to relaxing music that you enjoy can lower your blood pressure, slow your heart, and help prevent anxiety and panic attacks.
Discuss The Procedure With Your Dentist
Often, a large part of fear is fear of the unknown. No matter how much reading about root canals you do on the internet, that shouldn't take the place of discussing the procedure with your dentist. And be honest with your dentist about your anxiety as well. According to Britain's National Health Service, around 25% of people fear going to the dentist, so you're hardly alone. By knowing what your root canal will involve and being able to have your questions answered, you can reduce your anxiety. And by knowing about your anxiety, your dentist will be better equipped to guide you through the procedure in a calming way.