Feelings of anxiety about seeing the dentist is something that affects a large majority of people. You may be especially interested in a beautiful smile makeover, or you may want to – once and for all – create a habit in which you stay ahead of dental problems with routine care; and yet, dental fears keep you away from your goals.
Here, we will take a look at some of the common sources of dental anxiety, and what you can do about them.
Fear Of Pain
Many times people believe the procedure will be just as painful as their toothache. It makes them anxious, and it’s something they avoid at all costs. Some dental procedures aren’t nearly as painful as people fear they will be. Medication may be available to help lessen any pain.
Lack Of Control
Some people feel vulnerable when they are sitting in the dentist chair. They don’t like lying back and not being able to see what is going on around them. This is especially true for those who may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, as they worry about the unknown when they do not have complete control of a situation
Previous Bad Experiences
Many people with dental phobia held these fears since they were children, dating back to an unpleasant episode they had with a dentist in the past. Perhaps, they had a tooth filled and the novocain hadn’t quite kicked in before the dentist started drilling,leading to a very painful few moments. Or maybe a dental hygienist accidentally scraped a gum with their pick while cleaning teeth, hurting the person’s gum. It’s easy to see why someone would be loath to return to the dentist after an experience like this. They have a fear that those traumatic events will happen again. No one likes to get hurt and many people choose to avoid having to go to the dentist altogether rather than to face those fears.
Sensitive Gag Reflex
Regardless of your dental fears, there are options to help overcome them so that you can get the dental care you need to stay healthy. That means our natural instinct is to resist opening our mouths and becoming vulnerable to another person. Instead, we are biologically built to guard these areas and keep them private.
Perhaps you nodded your head as you read those examples. Even if you don’t have a paralyzing fear of dentists, you may still get nervous when you go for a cleaning or take your seat in the chair. It’s time to tackle the problem. Start with these steps:
- Acknowledge the issue: You may have been avoiding the dentist for years, or you may have only recently begun to feel uncomfortable. No matter how long you have suffered from dental phobia, you need to admit to yourself that you are scared to visit the dentist.
- Figure out why: It could be one of the reasons listed above, or it could be something more or less complex. You can’t confront your dental fear until you figure out what’s causing it.
- Ask yourself: Do I need help? If you feel nervous and anxious about going to the dentist, you can probably overcome that on your own, with the tips below. But if your phobia is being caused by a deeper issue, such as PTSD, then you may need professional assistance.
- Commit to overcoming your fear of dentists: It’s time to take action. You can’t achieve anything until you have a plan, and we have a lot of ideas to help you.
Treatments For Dental Fears And Anxieties
Treatments for Dental Fears and Anxieties For some patients, their dental fears and anxieties are part of a larger mental illness. These patients benefit most from a combination of help from their doctor and/or therapist as well as a caring and understanding dentist. Many other patients are afraid for other reasons. If you’re afraid of going to the dentist for any reason, the “treatment” isn’t really medical help. Instead, it’s about being treated with compassion and understanding and finding the dentist who provides this for you.
Create A Non-Threatening Environment
For anyone who’s worried, fearful, or anxious. it’s recommended that you meet with the dentist before your first procedure, even if it’s just a cleaning. This allows you to explain your fears, ask plenty of questions, and decide if you feel comfortable in the office and with the staff. Many dentists try to create a non-threatening atmosphere to help patients feel more comfortable. The office might not look like a typical office. Good music and a change of scenery help people feel more relaxed, as well.
Feel More In Control
Look for a dentist who helps you feel in control of the situation. They should explain the procedure to you, what you will feel, and how long it will last. You should be able to request breaks or ask your dentist to stop if you become uncomfortable. Your dentist may even look for reassurance from you that they can and should continue, checking in with you periodically to make sure you’re comfortable.
Helping You Relax
Much of your anxiety may be nerves and tension. You’re stressed because you don’t know what to expect. Part of overcoming this is finding ways to relax. Feel free to bring a trusted friend with you to your appointment, someone who helps you relax. Ideally, they won’t be afraid of the dentist, either. Take big, deep breaths to help your body unwind. Use distractions like music or podcasts that you can listen to or take advantage of any distractions the office provides like a TV. Keeping your mind on something other than your procedure will help.
If none of the available options are helping the fear and anxiety go away, ask about sedation dentistry options. You may benefit from a gentle form like Nitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas) or you may need something like oral sedation, medication to help you relax for your procedure. These can be extremely effective when the other methods can’t ease your anxiety. There’s nothing wrong with requesting extra help to get the dental care you need.
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