Though we normally associate fear of the dentist with children, it’s actually common in adults as well. Despite all the advancements in dentistry, many of which have helped to minimize any pain, some people still get a bit anxious before seeing us.
It could be because you don’t know what to expect, because you’ve had negative experiences in the past, or maybe even because of something you don’t fully understand. Whatever your reasons are, having an intense fear of going to the dentist can hinder your health.
1. Talk to Your Dentist
Simply talking to your dentist and letting him or her know why you have this fear may be enough to help you feel calm for at least a few hours. It will also help your dentist know how to approach treatment in a way that minimizes your fears. You will feel like you are more in control of the situation, and that could be enough for you to completely get over any residual concerns.
Remember that there have been so many improvements in dental technology over the last few years. If you are still imagining a pair of pliers and a squeeze ball, it might be time to do some research on the amazing state of modern dentistry.
3. Step by Step
You could also have your dentist talk you through exactly what he or she is going to do so you aren’t surprised by anything. If your dentist explains everything beforehand, you can at least anticipate what will happen.
In some cases, especially if your anxiety is very high or you have to get something more extreme done, will recommend nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to sedate you. This isn’t appropriate for minor procedures or general cleanings, but it never hurts to ask.
5. Like Your Dentist
It might seem simple, but finding a dentist that you are comfortable with and have a trusting relationship with can make all the difference. Just like with anyone you encounter in your life, there are many different personalities within the profession. You might have to through a few before you find someone you like.
6. Breathe and Try to Relax
If you practice yoga or meditation, schedule an appointment for right after you have a session. If you don’t, try some breathing or relaxation techniques before, during, and after your appointment. If that doesn’t work, perhaps try listening to some music during the treatment – for many, drowning out the noises of equipment and focusing on music you love can go a long way in calming fears.
7. Have a Signal
A lot of the anxiety you feel from going to the dentist could be caused by the fact that you cannot talk during most treatments. Before having your dentist take a look into your mouth, establish a sign that means, “Stop!” This will help you feel in control of the appointment, and will tell your dentist that you need to take a break if, at any point, you feel overwhelmed.
8. Practice Good Oral Health
In order to minimize your time in a dentist’s chair, take care of your mouth. If you know that there are problems with your teeth going into an appointment, you’ll likely be more nervous anticipating various treatments that may be necessary. However, if you brush and floss regularly, you will be able to feel confident going in.
Fear of going to the dentist is one of those childhood fears that tends to follow some into adulthood. If that’s true for you, there’s no need to be embarrassed about it. The important thing is to make sure that it doesn’t prevent you from maintaining good oral health and seeking care when you need it.
Next time you head to the dentist’s chair, try a few of these tips and you may find there’s no reason to be afraid at all.