3 Tips For Getting Over Your Fear Of The Dentist
Some people have no issues with going to the dentist, but there are many people out there who not only feel heightened anxiety about getting their teeth checked out by the doctor, but even have a full-blown phobia.
In fact, research suggests that 5-8% of Americans avoid going to dentist because they’re afraid of the dentist’s office! There are any number of reasons for this, ranging from a bad experience as a kid to being self-conscious about having unhealthy teeth.
The bad news is that if you want healthy teeth, you need to get over your fear of the dentist. The good news is that it’s not necessarily as difficult as you think it is, and we’re here to help you learn to face what you fear. So read on to discover the 3 tips for getting over your fear of the dentist!
1. Discover the Source of Your Fear
In some ways, this might be the most difficult thing to overcome when attempting to get over your fear of the dentist. After all, not everyone knows WHY we’re afraid of all the things we’re afraid of. Things like therapy can help, especially if you’re dealing with an already existing anxiety disorder or other types of mood disorders.
However, it can be more simply traced to things like a bad experience at the dentist’s office when you were kid. Maybe you just didn’t have anyone tell you that was going to be alright or maybe it hurt due to not enough novocaine.
Sometimes the fear you feel can be boiled down to a fear of losing control or maybe even just a simple, normally-healthy aversion to pain; it’s just the association between pain and going to the dentist that needs to be adjusted.
Regardless of the reason, if you can identify the specific instance in which your fear of the dentist developed or the specific reason, it can go a long way in making easier to confront it and even change it. If it turns out that your fear is more deep-rooted than a bad experience as a child or something you feel like you can’t handle on your own, there’s no shame in seeking the help of a behavioral professional.
2. Do Some Research on the Dentists You’re Considering
Conducting research on your dentist can be accomplished in two ways: reading up on them and their practice online or arranging a consultation with them in person. This doesn’t mean you can’t do both, either. In fact, breaking down your exposure to what scares you—the dentist’s office, this case—into separate steps can help you deal with your fear. First you can learn about the practice on the clinic’s website and then you can have any additional questions answered by the doctor.
Talking to the doctor can be especially valuable because it can put a face to the name, a human being behind the office, if you will. By talking to the dentist, you can let them know what your concerns and fears might be and they can do their best to assuage them.
For those with intense anxiety about going to the dentist, consider a painless sedation dentist, who specializes in dental procedures conducted with the assistance of anesthesia. With sedation dentistry, the patient actually falls asleep during the procedure and wakes up with no memory of it having ever occurred.
By opening the lines of dialogue between you and the dentist, you could humanize the whole process while minimizing the scary stimuli. This may not cure you completely of your phobia of the dentist’s office, but it can definitely go a long way toward making it easier.
3. Bring Some Emotional Support to Your Appointment
While you may not like going to the dentist, you are likely to have a friend or family member that doesn’t mind it. They can distract you from the details of the office that might heighten your anxiety, whether it’s the hum of the fluorescent lights or the smell of the carpet cleaner; little things can be what really get to us when we’re feeling anxious or scared.
They can also provide you with additional reassurances of their own experiences or remind you of the facts that you learned from your research that you conducted leading up to this dental visit. Remember that while they don’t experience the dentist the same way you do, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have the same AMOUNT of experience going to the dentist as you. They can arm you with the reassurance you might need at the zero hour.
Those are the three primary tips that should help you feel more at ease leading up to your next dentist’s appointment. Remember that if your fear is acute enough to make your symptoms physical or debilitating, there is no shame in seeking the help of a professional.
Frankie Little is a Colorado-based blogger who has been writing about various topics related to family, relationships, and healthy living for nearly 10 years. When he’s not researching his next topic, he can be found hiking in the mountains near his home with his dog, Moxie.