Before the advent of painless dentistry and non-invasive treatments, people did have justified fears. Then, some procedures were painful, anesthesia was a luxury, and the conditions in which dentists worked were not like today. Nowadays, dentistry has progressed significantly, yet dental anxiety is still a widespread ‘disease.’
A recent study found that nearly 25 percent of adult people suffer from sustained or regular dental phobia. About half of them put off going to the dentist out of fear. As explained here, that can lead to more severe dental issues and trigger other diseases.
Dental fear has no single cause, but some factors can contribute. If you’re avoiding the dentist because you’re scared, you may never get the treatment you need. And if you keep putting off your dental visits, you’ll never have a healthy mouth.
Be Honest About Your Fears
To overcome your fear of the dentist, you have to address the underlying cause of your phobia. There must be something you are terrified of. Maybe it’s a pain, drill noise, or childhood trauma. In many cases, the cause is simply a deep-seated belief about painful procedures and unfriendly practitioners.
But whatever the reason, you have to admit and face it. The best way to overcome your dental phobia is to identify the reasons behind your fears. Then, work towards overcoming those factors. Dentists are experts in their niches and have the soft skills to handle anxious patients like you.
Extreme fear can lead to the negligence of your oral health. Suppose your phobia is so severe that it’s affecting your health and social life. In that case, it may be necessary to seek professional help. But there will be no need for this if you can admit your problem and share it with your dentist.
Find a Good Practitioner
The critical step in overcoming the fear is finding a dental professional you can trust. A good dental practitioner will accommodate your needs and make you feel good and comfortable. That’s a crucial step in overcoming dental anxiety.
If you’re unsure how to talk to your dentist, consider emailing them and describing your fears in writing. A well-written letter will be more effective if you have the right words for the purpose. Plus, it can help you communicate your concerns more relaxedly. You might also want to complete a Dental Fears Questionnaire. It can be a helpful tool if you’re unsure of your ability to express yourself verbally.
Tips on finding a good dental practitioner are below:
Patients with dental phobia can use sedatives and learn how their dentists perform their procedures. Feel free to ask the practitioners some logical questions. By educating yourself about dental health and the techniques they will use, you can start to overcome your fear.
Every patient-doctor relationship must be full of trust. You will be more relaxed if your dentist explains what they will do, the intensity of the pain, how long the procedure lasts, etc. Reducing uncertainty has a positive effect on patients with dental anxiety.
If your child has dental phobia, find a dentist who will listen to their fears and treat them with care. Practitioners specializing in working with children are needed in such situations because they have an approach adapted to the youngest. So look for pediatric dentists with a good reputation, a lot of patience, and great feedback from other parents.
Use Relaxation Techniques
If you’re scared of pain, a calming medication might be of great help. Also, yoga and breathing techniques can help you cope with your anxiety. You can even do stretches, read, or listen to music – whatever makes you feel good.
As for breathing techniques, you can rely on them before and during the procedure. For example, if you feel tense, you can inhale deeply and slowly, hold your breath, and then exhale slowly as well. Repeat it several times to relax muscles and keep calm. You can do this anytime.
Try with visualization – imagine yourself in some better place than the dental clinic. Use your imagination to find your happy place and forget about your fear. The more details you think of (sounds, smells, who’s with you), the better effects.
You can also bring a comforting object to the dentist if you’re afraid of them. For example, you can buy yourself a small stress ball to relieve your anxiety. Or you can put on earplugs if you hate the drill sound. Some soothing music will calm you down. Some clinics even offer movies and specialized TV programs for patients.
Dentists may even suggest mild sedation when larger interventions are involved in your first consultation. But you can discuss these medications even if you only fix one tooth. The sedative doses will be customized to your needs and make you feel better.
Schedule Appointment at the Right Time
The worst part of a dental appointment for a person with proven anxiety is waiting. Mostly there are other people in the waiting room talking, so you can hear some bad experiences that will only deepen your phobia. That can make your anxiety even worse.
Whenever possible, schedule an appointment outside of busy hours. That way, you’ll have more time to talk to the plantation dentist and calm down. Also, don’t arrive before your appointment to avoid unnecessary chatting with other patients that can only worsen your phobia.
Seek Professional Help
For many people, the fear of the dentist is a legitimate phobia. So if you’re unable to handle it, you should find a therapist who specializes in dealing with this issue. The most important thing to do is to detect the causes and symptoms of your problem. That will help you overcome your fear of the dentist and start to enjoy the benefits of regular dental care.
Anxiety that occurs in some people when they need to visit the dentist is quite unpleasant. Still, it can be overcome with effort and good will. It’s important to understand that dentists are there to make your smile more beautiful and healthier, and there is nothing wrong with that.