Don’t ever think that you are the only person who is afraid to go to the dentist. Dental phobia is a major problem when it comes to maintaining good oral health. Some people procrastinate and hope that the pain will go away rather than making an appointment and solving the problem. The dental industry has come a long way over the last few decades in their work to fight against dental phobias. Sedation dentistry and relaxation therapy methods have proven to make a dental visit a more comfortable experience. Dentists understand phobias and want to help treat the whole patient, not just the tooth.
Besides what a dentist can do to treat phobias, there are several things you can do for yourself. Help yourself cope with anxiety and push through the fear to keep your oral health a priority.
Coping tips to help curb dental phobias
1. Communicate your fear of pain to the dentist. Don’t feel embarrassed over having such strong fears towards the even the simplest dental procedures. The dentist will have options to make your visit more relaxed, comfortable and pain free. You can empower yourself during the procedure as well. If at any time you feel a sensation, let the dentist know right away before the feeling increases in intensity. A good dentist will work with you to eliminate pain.
2. Pay attention to your body. Your body will react to fear and anxiety such as a clenched jaw or fist. The stress alone will also work to speed up your metabolism and shorten the length of time sedation medications work. Before your visit, practice yoga or meditate to put your body into a more relaxed state. Focus on breathing techniques to keep you relaxed while in the dentist’s chair.
3. Does the sight of dental equipment increase your anxiety? Keep your eyes closed during treatment. If you are seeing a dentist with many years of experience, trust the process and block your vision of what equipment is going to be used. Sight plays a big role in intensifying other senses, (i.e. think about how important the role of how food looks on the plate to how it tastes). Your fear will only intensify as you watch the needle coming towards you. Close your eyes to help cope.
4. Sound plays another important role in dental phobias. If your dentist does not offer headphones to help soothe your phobia, ask if you can bring your own. Drown out the sound of the drill. It is quite an effective approach to stay relaxed, especially if your eyes
5. Treat yourself right when you leave. If you have something to look forward to once the dental visit is complete, it will help to keep your mind on more positive things. Schedule a massage or take a bubble bath to relax tense muscles. If your mouth is sore you could have your favorite soup ready ahead of time. If soup isn’t your thing, have your favorite ice cream on hand instead. Follow the dentist’s follow-up recommendations and take any prescribed medications the first day even if you think you can handle the pain without it. Once any in-office medication fully wears off, you may have wished you had.
Realistically, your dental phobias may never completely go away. What you can do is make the visit a more positive experience. Accept fear for what it is and take measures into your own hands to cope with the tension and anxiety that often stems from dental phobias.
During your consultation, Green Dental & Orthodontics wants to hear about any dental phobia patients may have in order to best treat each patient as needed. Don’t let your phobia keep you from maintaining a healthy smile. Don’t put off dental concerns any longer, call our office today.