Does the idea of taking a trip to the dentist’s office send shivers down your spine?
You might think that you’re the only adult who is scared to go to the dentist. But the truth is that there are a lot of people who skip dental checkups and procedures due to dental fear.
Studies have suggested that anywhere from 9 to 15 percent of Americans—about 30 to 40 million people—avoid seeing a dentist on a regular basis out of fear. They can’t deal with the anxiety that accompanies something as simple as a routine teeth cleaning.
Would you like to overcome your dental fear once and for all and make good oral health a bigger priority in your life? Here are 7 tips that will help you do it.
1. Figure out Why You Have a Fear of Dentists
Before you can begin to address your dental fear, it’s important for you to acknowledge its existence and accept that it’s taking a toll on you. You’re going to have a hard time dealing with dental fear if you’re in denial about it.
In addition to acknowledging your fear, you should also try to figure out where this fear might be coming from. Are you scared to go to the dentist because you:
- Had a bad experience with a dentist when you were a child?
- Heard awful things about going to the dentist as an adult?
- Hate the thought of someone poking around in your mouth?
Write down a list of the things that you don’t like about visiting a dentist. This might bring you closer to figuring out why you’re so scared of dentists in the first place.
2. Find a Dentist Who Understands Dental Fear
Despite what you might think, most dentists are very nice people. They go out of their way to make sure that their patients are as comfortable as they can be during cleanings and other dental procedures.
Most dentists are also very accommodating when it comes to helping patients who suffer from dental fear. They’ll go to great lengths to ease your mind during a visit.
Do your best to find a dentist in your area who specializes in helping those with dentist phobia. You can locate a dentist by:
- Asking family members, friends, neighbors, and coworkers for recommendations
- Reading online reviews for different dentists to see which seem to specialize in assisting people with dental fear
- Checking out the websites for dentists to see what kind of services and care they provide
There is bound to be at least a few dentists in your city or town who know how to work with people who have a genuine fear of dentists.
3. Talk to Your Dentist About Your Worries
No matter which dentist you choose to go with for dental care, you should start off your relationship with them by sitting down and discussing your worries.
Prior to your first appointment with your new dentist, be sure to tell them that you’ve struggled with dentophobia in the past. Talk to them about why you think that is and see what they can do to help you.
A good dentist will be more than happy to listen to you and tell you about what steps they take to help patients who are scared. They might have some tried and true techniques that they use for patients who fear their next dentist appointment.
4. Ask Questions Before Dental Procedures
Outside of talking to your new dentist about your initial fears and worries with regards to dental care, you should also talk specifics prior to your first dental procedure with them.
Ask your dentist to explain the procedure that they’re going to perform on you in general terms. Then, toss out more specific questions like:
- About how long will the procedure take?
- Is the procedure going to cause pain or discomfort at any point?
- Can I stop you if the pain gets to be too much?
- Will I experience any pain later on?
- What will happen if I don’t get this procedure done?
When you gather as much information as you can about a dental procedure, you’ll feel at least some of your worries and concerns melt away. You’ll have a much better grasp on what’s going to take place when you’re in your dentist’s chair.
5. Learn How to Relax Prior to Dental Appointments
It’s normal to feel a little nervous before a dental procedure. Even people who aren’t scared of going to the dentist might feel slightly on edge.
If you feel like your nerves are getting the best of you, find ways to relax your body and mind. You can do it by:
- Meditating for a few minutes
- Listening to soothing music
- Squeezing a stress ball
You might also want to try and distract your mind so that you’re able to think about something other than going to the dentist. Talk with a friend or spend a few minutes on social media to get your mind off your upcoming dental procedure.
6. See If Sedatives Might Be an Option
Most dentists won’t administer sedatives for something like routine teeth cleaning. But they will think about using them if a patient is undergoing a more intense treatment like a dental filling.
Talk to your dentist about the possibility of using a local anesthetic or nitrous oxide prior to a dental procedure. They may agree that sedatives would be a good idea for you.
7. Consider Seeking Help From a Psychologist
If you’ve tried everything else listed here and still can’t shake your dental fears, there might be a more serious issue at play. Consider making an appointment with a psychologist right away.
A psychologist can help you figure out why you’re so scared to go to the dentist. They have experience working with those with dental fear and dentist phobia.
Don’t Let Dental Fear Keep You From Seeing a Dentist
More than 40 percent of Americans admit that they don’t see a dentist as often as they should. Some don’t do it because of cost concerns, while others don’t do it because they just never get around to making regular appointments.
But there are also many people who forgo trips to the dentist out of fear. Their dental fear prevents them from getting the care they need to keep their oral health in check.
Are you one of these people? We can help. Check out the dental services we provide and book an appointment with us today.