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How do I distract myself at the dentist?

Going to the dentist can be a nerve-wracking experience for many people. The sound of the drill, the anticipation of potential discomfort, and the confined space can contribute to feelings of anxiety and apprehension. However, there are ways to make your dental visit more bearable and distract yourself from the procedure at hand. By utilizing various distraction techniques, you can make your dental appointment a more comfortable and relaxing experience. In this article, we will explore different strategies that can help you distract yourself at the dentist and alleviate some of the associated anxiety.

Bringing headphones and listening to music or audiobooks

One effective way to distract yourself at the dentist is by bringing headphones and listening to your favorite music or audiobooks. The sound of dental tools, particularly the drill, can be a source of discomfort for many individuals. By drowning out these sounds with music or an engaging audiobook, you can create a more pleasant environment for yourself.

When choosing your preferred music or audiobook, opt for something that helps you relax and takes your mind off the dental procedure. Consider creating a playlist of your favorite songs or selecting an audiobook that piques your interest. By staying mentally engaged with enjoyable content, you can divert your attention away from the dental work being done.

By wearing headphones and immersing yourself in music or an audiobook, you can also block out the conversations and noises happening around you, further enhancing your distraction and relaxation.

Utilizing available entertainment options provided by the dental office

Many dental offices today understand the importance of patient comfort and provide various entertainment options to help distract their patients. Before your appointment, inquire about the amenities available at the dental office. Some offices offer televisions with a selection of TV shows or movies, providing visual entertainment throughout the procedure.

Watching TV shows or movies can be an effective way to distract yourself from the dental work at hand. By focusing on the screen, you can divert your attention away from the procedure and immerse yourself in an engaging storyline. The visual stimulation and sense of escapism can significantly reduce anxiety and make the experience more enjoyable.

In addition to televisions, some dental offices provide DVDs for patients to watch during their visit. If you have a particular movie or TV show that you find comforting or entertaining, consider bringing it along to your appointment.

Using stress balls or handheld objects

Occupying your hands during dental procedures can also help distract your mind from any discomfort or anxiety. Squeezing a stress ball or playing with a small handheld object, like a fidget spinner, can provide tactile stimulation and redirect your focus.

Stress balls are designed to be squeezed repeatedly, allowing for the release of tension and stress. As you squeeze the stress ball, you redirect your focus onto the sensation in your hand, creating a physical and mental diversion from the dental work.

Similarly, playing with a fidget spinner or a similar object can offer a calming effect by engaging your hands and providing a repetitive motion. The simple act of spinning the device can help you relax and tune out the surrounding dental environment.

By occupying your hands with these objects, you can create a sense of control and distraction, making your dental appointment a more tolerable experience.

Deep breathing and relaxation techniques

Another technique to help distract yourself at the dentist is to practice deep breathing and relaxation techniques. Anxiety often leads to shallow and rapid breathing, which can increase feelings of panic and discomfort. By consciously focusing on your breath and practicing deep breathing exercises, you can promote relaxation and reduce anxiety.

During your dental procedure, take slow, deep breaths in through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. By focusing on your breath and the sensation of inhaling and exhaling, you divert your attention away from the dental work at hand.

Alongside deep breathing, you can also try other relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation or visualization. Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and releasing each muscle group in your body, starting from your toes and moving up to your head. This technique can release physical tension and promote a sense of overall relaxation.

Visualization is another powerful technique that involves creating a mental image of a calm and peaceful environment. As the dental work is being done, visualize yourself in a tranquil setting, such as a peaceful beach or a serene garden. By immersing yourself in this visualization, you can create a mental escape from the dental procedure and induce a state of relaxation.

Engaging in positive self-talk and visualization

In addition to visualization techniques, engaging in positive self-talk can help distract your mind and reduce anxiety at the dentist. Encourage and reassure yourself mentally throughout the procedure. Remind yourself that you are taking care of your oral health and that the dental staff are professionals who want to ensure your comfort.

Visualize a positive outcome and focus on the end result. Picture yourself leaving the dental office with a healthy smile. By redirecting your thoughts towards a positive outcome, you can shift your mindset and alleviate anxiety.

Seeking support from dental professionals

It is vital to communicate your concerns and fears with the dental staff. By expressing your anxieties, the dental professionals can provide additional support and reassurance to make your visit more comfortable. They can explain the procedure to you, keep you informed throughout, and adjust their approach to accommodate your needs.

If you are feeling overwhelmed or need a break during the procedure, do not hesitate to let the dental staff know. They can pause the procedure to give you a moment to relax and regain your composure. Taking breaks can help alleviate any built-up tension and allow you to gather yourself before continuing.

Having supportive dental professionals can make a significant difference in how you perceive your dental appointments, and they can offer guidance and recommendations on distraction techniques based on their experience.


Going to the dentist does not have to be an anxiety-inducing experience. By utilizing various distraction techniques, you can make your dental visits more comfortable and even enjoyable. Bringing headphones and listening to music or audiobooks, utilizing available entertainment options provided by the dental office, using stress balls or handheld objects, practicing deep breathing and relaxation techniques, engaging in positive self-talk and visualization, and seeking support from dental professionals are all effective ways to distract yourself at the dentist. Experiment with these techniques and find what works best for you. Remember, your comfort and well-being during dental visits are essential, and by implementing these strategies, you can take control of your dental experience.


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