If you’re terrified of going to the dentist, you are certainly not alone. A substantial number of people are fearful of the dentist, and for a variety of reasons. This fear is pretty reasonable, considering the nature of the dentist’s office and the lack of control and occasional pain experienced by patients. Unfortunately, this fear also keeps people from having good oral health. You shouldn’t wait until an issue becomes completely unbearable before you finally resign to making an appointment.
So, how can you conquer this debilitating fear of the dentist? While there’s no surefire way to completely rid you of your phobia, there are some tried and true methods that you can use to get through it.
Don’t feel foolish in admitting to your dentist that you’re afraid – they hear it all of the time! A great dentist is sympathetic to this fear and will do everything that they can to enhance your comfort and make the experience as painless as possible for you. Consider asking your dentist to explain everything that they are doing as they go, especially if you’re bothered by the lack of control you have from your seat in the dentist’s chair.
If there is a television or radio in the room, focus your attention on that. You could also bring headphones to listen to music, squeeze on a stress ball, or recite things in your head (like state capitals or reciting the alphabet backwards – whatever gets your mind off things).
Recruit a friend or family member who doesn’t share your phobia along for your appointment. The presence of this person can be encouraging and relaxing, especially if they are sympathetic to your situation.
The only thing worse than being afraid in the dentist’s office is dreading the appointment throughout your day. Fear becomes amplified when it’s given opportunity to stew inside your head, so try and schedule as early an appointment as you can to spare yourself this misery.
There are different forms of sedation that a dentist could be qualified to administer if it will help you get through your appointment. Oral, intravenous, nitrous oxide and local anesthetic sedation are commonly used to help patients feel more relaxed during their procedure. If you feel that the methods outlined above won’t be enough to quell your anxiety, sedation could very well be the best option for you. Ask your dentist which forms of sedation they are qualified to use in their office.
Whatever the source of your phobia is, you need to see a dentist sometimes. While you might never totally conquer this fear, you can implement the suggestions above to make your appointments more bearable – even if you’re still uneasy.