For many people just the thought of going to the dentist can be frightening. There is, however, great news! Modern dentistry provides many strategies and opportunities to alleviate your dental anxiety.
Be Honest With Yourself
It might be difficult to admit that you’re afraid to see a dentist, or it might be difficult to know exactly what bothers you about the situation. To help narrow down the source of your fear, think through your past experiences and write down any details that were disturbing. Common dental fears can include embarrassment over the state of your teeth, feeling out of control in a dentist’s chair, potential for pain, needles, gagging, and the smells or sounds associated with the dentist’s office.
Then take some time to write down what would make an ideal dental visit for you. What would you like about the dentist, his/her staff, the office, and the procedures?
Be Honest With Your Dentist
Grab your notes and bring them to your dental appointment. Take this opportunity to be open and honest about your fear and talk with your dentist. Be specific about past experiences and sensory triggers – like sounds, smells and tastes – that aggravate your anxiety. This kind of honest conversation will also build the relationship between you and your dentist . If you’ve had bad experiences with dentists in the past, you may feel that all dentists are bad – this just isn’t true. When your dentist knows you are fearful, he can take extra steps to help make your appointment a more relaxed experience.
Fear of the unknown can only intensify whatever anxiety you might feel while you’re at the dentist’s office. Ask questions regarding what procedures will be done at each visit, from a simple cleaning to more complicated dental procedures. If you’re sensitive to any particular aspect – such as the sound of a drill – ask if you can listen to your mp3 player to drown out the sound. Knowing the details ahead of time will help alleviate any nervousness that might linger.
Ways to Deal with Dental Anxiety
Dr. Todd Beck at Mt Tabor Dental offers a few tips to help reduce your fear of going to the dentist:
- Choose an appointment time where you will not be rushed and can arrive relaxed.
- If the sound of the dental drill bothers you, ask for head phones so you can listen to music during your appointment.
- Ask for a blanket if you are cold, since staying warm can really help with staying relaxed.
- Make sure you and your dentist have a signal (such as a hand raise) to let him or her know you need to take a break.
- Ask your dentist about nitrous oxide (laughing gas). Nitrous oxide is a safe and effective modality for treating dental anxiety. For those patients who are very anxious, your dentist may also prescribe an oral sedative prior to your dental appointment.
With all the modern anesthetics, materials and techniques available today, doing to the dentist does not have to be anything to fear!