A fear of the dentist is certainly not unusual. Some people have bad memories from their childhood or fears of pain, while others simply feel anxious because they don’t like the experience of a visit to the dentist. Your dentist can help you to feel more relaxed during your appointments, but there are also some things that you can do to help yourself overcome your dental anxiety. Overcoming any fear is difficult, but it’s possible to do if you know the right methods to work on dealing with your anxiety.
If you start feeling anxious as soon as you make an appointment with your dentist, here are some ways you can work to overcome the problem.
Understand What Makes You Anxious
Understanding the cause of your dental anxiety is key to working on it and resolving it. There are several reasons you could feel anxious about going to the dentist, and many of them are very common. For example, you might be scared that the treatment is going to hurt. Perhaps you associate the dentist with a bad experience you have had in the past, particularly during your childhood. You might also find it uncomfortable to have the dentist so close to you, having their fingers and tools in your mouth, or feeling immobile in the chair. Some people also feel anxious about the dentist because of the cost of the treatment.
There isn’t always a clear reason for why you are scared of the dentist. When you have an irrational fear or phobia, the anxiety isn’t as easy to dissect and you can’t identify why you feel the way you do. This can sometimes be more difficult to deal with because it’s not as easy to use logical solutions to deal with your anxiety.
Techniques for Dealing with Dental Anxiety
How you overcome your dental anxiety depends on the reason for your fear. If you’re scared that it’s going to hurt, even the fear of the anesthesia needle can be daunting. Let your dentist know that you’re scared, and they will make the experience as comfortable as possible for you. If you have a fear of needles, they can first give you nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to help you relax. Sedation dentistry can be an option too if you’re particularly fearful.
If you have had a bad experience in the past, for whatever reason, finding the right dentist is crucial. You should choose a dentist’s office that makes you feel comfortable and that you can trust. Not every dentist is the same, so approach each one with an open mind. If you talk to the staff about your past experience, you will often find that they can be very understanding.
Feeling out of control can also be a reason for your fear. Having to lie back in the chair with a stranger’s fingers in your mouth isn’t exactly a good time. However, good dental professionals will always help to accommodate you. If you need to take a break at any point, you can simply raise your hand.
Some people can feel embarrassed to go to the dentist, especially if they haven’t been in a few years or haven’t been taking great care of their teeth. The most important thing to remember here is that dentists have seen it all. They’re here to help you care for your oral health, not make judgements.
If you’re worried about costs, remember that regular checkups can prevent more costly treatment later. Find a dentist that accepts your insurance and perhaps that offers payment plans or financing to cover costs that insurance doesn’t pay for.
When you have a phobia of the dentist, you can’t really use logic to make your fear go away. However, there are techniques you can use to stay calm, and you might benefit from working with a mental health professional to overcome your fear. It can be useful to equip yourself with some calming breathing techniques or mindfulness practices. It can sometimes be helpful to have cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or other types of therapy that help you to deal with anxious thoughts.
Your dentist can help you to overcome your dental anxiety by working with you. If you choose the right dentist, they will listen to your concerns and try to provide solutions that will help you relieve your anxiety. There are many things that can help you to feel more comfortable, including things that you can do and things that your dentist can do.