5 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of the Dentist
Being frightened of the dentist is often thought to only affect young children. However, many adults also struggle with this fear. For some, their anxiety toward the idea of visiting the dentist is powerful enough to prevent them from going, even when they’re in pain and experiencing serious dental problems.
There are a variety of reasons people fear the dentist, such as bad experiences, the sound of the drill or generalized anxiety disorder. Because dental treatment and regular checkups are so important to good health, it’s important to try to overcome this fear.
Here are five (5) ways to conquer your fear of the dentist.
1. Foster Familiarity
Paying a visit to the dentist’s office before you commit to an appointment can be immensely helpful. This gives you an opportunity to meet the dentist and staff, become familiar with them and hopefully establish trust. You should also take this time to explain your feelings and situation to the dentist and staff members. Laying your fears out on the table right away will tell you what you can expect in the way of accommodation. If it doesn’t seem like the dentist or other staff take your condition seriously, take your business elsewhere. The last thing you need right now are people who make you feel tense and worried.
2. Consider Sedation Options
In recent years, a growing number of practices have begun catering specifically to people who are afraid of the dentist. Many, including Dentistry at Happy Canyon, now offer sedation dentistry options that relax patients and prevent them from feeling anxious. These include IV sedation, oral sedation (pills), laughing gas (nitrous oxide) or a combination. Talk with your dentist about whether any of these sedation methods might be appropriate for your particular case.
3. Emotional Support
On the day of your scheduled treatment, try to find a close friend or family member to accompany you to the dentist’s office. It’s sometimes amazing how much better you can feel just knowing that a caring, trusted and familiar person is nearby. After all, it’s quite natural to be more susceptible to fear when you feel alone in an unfamiliar environment. Your dentist should also have no problems with allowing this person to sit in the exam room with you throughout your treatment, if you so desire.
4. Relaxation Methods
Classical methods of relaxation can be helpful for many people when visiting the dentist. If you start feeling anxious, take a breath from deep in your abdomen, hold it for a few moments and exhale slowly. You’ll likely find that this causes both your heart rate and respiration slow down, easing tension and keeping your anxiety from growing out of control. If you have a portable music player and headphones, these can also be beneficial. Soothing music, nature sounds or audio books are some ideal choices for this occasion.
5. Seek Professional Help
If it seems like nothing quells your fear of the dentist, your best option will be seeking help from a qualified therapist. Try to find a psychologist who has training and experience in treating fears and phobias. Treatment methods often vary by the therapist, but many focus on a gradual approach by exposing patients to their specific fears in a slow and controlled fashion. The goal is to eventually desensitize patients to the objects of their fear, thereby allowing them to overcome it.
A fear of the dentist is no laughing matter, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a very real problem that affects millions of people spanning all ages. Unfortunately, simply avoiding the dentist is not a practical solution. It can not only threaten your physical health but also necessitate even more dental work. To prevent this, try using some of these tips the next time you need to visit the dentist.