4 Tips to Beat Your Fear of the Dentist
Very few people enjoy going to the dentist. It’s not much fun having someone poking around in your mouth, prodding your teeth and gums, and telling you everything you’re doing wrong when it comes to your dental hygiene. For most people, visiting the dentist is just a necessary discomfort that is essential for maintaining healthy, beautiful smiles. But for others, it is an absolute nightmare.
Fear of the dentist, or odontophobia, is a surprisingly common fear. And if it stops you from getting your regular checkup, it can be disastrous for your oral health. Seeing a dentist once or twice a year is essential to make sure your teeth and gums are in good condition and raise any issues that might cause you problems further down the line. If your irrational fear is making you reluctant to book an appointment, you could end up with severe tooth decay, gum disease, or even tooth loss.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to manage your dental anxiety and make visiting the dentist a more comfortable experience. Here are four tips to help you beat your fear.
Talk to your dentist
Most dentists are friendly, understanding people with a genuine concern for your health. Certainly not the nightmarish sadistic figures your imagination makes them out to be. As soon as you arrive for your appointment, let them know how scared you are and they will do everything in their power to make you feel relaxed and comfortable. They can talk you through everything they are doing to make you feel less nervous and keep you distracted from what is going on inside your mouth. Agree on a sign with your dentist, such as raising your hand, to signal that you are uncomfortable and need a break.
Don’t go alone
If you are feeling anxious at the dentist, one of the best things you can do to stay calm is to bring a trusted loved one with you. A friend or family member will be able to talk to you while you wait and keep your mind off the checkup.
Exposure therapy is a method used to treat all kinds of fears, and it involves raising your comfort with the object of your fear by increasing your exposure to it. The more you see the dentist on a gradual basis, the less anxiety you will feel. Start by visiting the dental office without having an exam, and then work your way up to less intrusive treatments like X-rays and cleanings before booking a full appointment when you’re ready.
Try sleep dentistry
If you need more complicated dental treatment such as an extraction, root canal, or implants, then you’re going to spend a lot longer in the dentist’s chair than you would for a quick checkup. And it’s understandable that this would make you a bit more nervous. But many dental practices, such as Sleep Dentistry Defined, offer full sedation as an option, meaning that you will be unconscious for the entire procedure and won’t feel a thing. By the time you wake up, it’ll all be over.