How to Overcome Your Fear of Going to the Dentist
While for most people going to the dentist is no big deal, some even finding it a pleasant experience to have their teeth thoroughly cleaned, for others just the thought of going to see a dentist is enough to make them break out in sweats. Actually about 20% of the entire population has a fear of going to the dentist (dental phobia). Consequently, many people avoid going to the dentist until it’s absolutely necessary, at which point often a lot of damage has already been done. Not regularly seeing your dentist can be detrimental to your oral health. If you have a check-up every six months, any dental problems that have developed since your last appointment can be quickly detected and treated in its early stages. If you wait until you are in serious pain however, a lot of damage might already have been done.
To help you get over your fear of seeing a dentist, we’ve gathered a few tips that can help you control your dental phobia.
Take Someone Along Who You Trust
Take a good friend or relative who doesn’t have a fear of dentists along with you to your first visit. They can help you put your mind at ease and provide some distraction.
Relaxation techniques before and during the dental procedure can help stave off anxiety attacks. Focus on taking deep, slow breaths to help control your hearth rate and keep your muscles relaxed.
Choose the Right Dentist
If you have a fear of going to the dentist then having a dentist who isn’t sensitive to this at all will only make matters worse. You want to find a dentist who is very amiable, understanding and who you can easily talk to. Some dentists are actually specialized in dealing with patients who are afraid of seeing a dentist. Some of them have even completely transformed their dental practice into a peaceful environment that doesn’t resemble a dentist’s office at all anymore. They also know exactly how to talk to patients to keep them at ease before and during a dental procedure.
Some dentists specialize in sedation dentistry to help get anxious patients through lengthy dental procedures. Depending on the type of procedure, different kinds of sedation can be used to keep a patient calm and relaxed throughout the entire procedure. The pain-free experience that sedation dentistry offers can help a patient overcome their fears so they won’t forego scheduling their 6 month checkups anymore. Make sure to get someone to pick you up afterwards though, because it’ll take a while until the sedation wears off.
Seeing a Psychologist
If nothing seems to help you get over your dental anxiety, you might want to see a psychologist for treatment. They can help you overcome your fear using “direct therapeutic exposure”, which involves gradually exposing a patient to their fears.
If you think you’re suffering from dental anxiety, don’t wait until your oral health suffers to seek help. Talk to your doctor or dentist about it. They can advise you on the best way to overcome your fears.
Zane Schwarzlose is a writer at Lakeway Cosmetic Dentistry, an Austin cosmetic dentist practice. Zane actually enjoys going to the dentist because he flosses all the time.