Going to the dentist is not one of those calendar events that make you giddy, I’m sure. In fact, for most people, the thought of going to the dentist, whether for a check-up or to have a procedure done, provokes some uneasiness. However, it does not have to be this way. The dentist’s job is to treat your teeth and gums with care and attention. They are there to help you get the best out of your oral health. You may have reservations because of a traumatizing past experience or for a number of other reasons, but finding a dentist that you can trust and feel safe with can make all the difference in easing your fears.
There is a distinct difference between someone who has a phobia of the dentist and those who fear or have anxiety about the dentist. Known as dentophobia or odontophobia, the phobia of the dentist produces an irrational fear in those who have it. They understand that their panic is unfounded, but can do nothing to thwart those fears. In some severe cases, this may require treatment by a mental health professional.
Less severe is a general anxiety around going to the dentist. These fears can stem from a variety of worries:
- Embarrassment of dental condition
If you are embarrassed about the appearance of your teeth or gums, your dentist is there to help you conquer those struggles, not to chastise you. You can rest assured that no matter how bad you think your teeth are, your dentist will help you build your confidence and establish better oral health habits.
- Fear of pain
If you are afraid of the pain you may experience during your dental visit, ask your dentist how you can benefit from sedation dentistry. Also, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers prior to your visit to alleviate some of the pain that may occur.
- Fear of injections
If you are afraid of the injections that dentists may need to give you, you can attempt to remain distracted by either TV or other means to not focus on what is occurring. Also, ask your dentist to go over the procedure with you so you know what to expect.
- Fear of gagging
If you have a severe gag reflex or are afraid of choking during the procedure, you can apply throat numbing spray or snore relief spray to the back of your throat to thwart that reaction. Also, breathing through your nose and/or humming have both been shown to be beneficial for those with an exaggerated gag reflex. Doing these during a procedure may give you some relief.
- Fear of dental tools
If you are fearful of the tools being used by your dentist, ask your dentist to go over each one with you prior to using it, so you are well aware of their purpose prior to the procedure. This can help ease your uneasiness. Also, if the sounds they make also bother you, try using noise-canceling headphones during your visit, when possible.
- Fear of not being completely numbed
If you are afraid of not being completely numb before the procedure starts, have your dentist double and triple-check the area prior to beginning the procedure. Also, ask how other sedation options might help ease your fears.
Visiting your dentist two times each year is essential to your oral health. If you are fearful of any aspect of the procedures being done during those visits, here are some general ways to overcome those fears:
- Be open about your fears with the dental staff
- Ask as many questions about the procedures that you need
- Agree on your pain threshold/boundaries with your dentist
- If you are comfortable, watch the procedures with a mirror while they are taking place
- If you are not comfortable watching, stay distracted with a TV or other media device
- Schedule your appointment at a time that will alleviate too much social interaction
- Discuss throat numbing or sedation options
- Discuss alternatives to the procedures where applicable
If you still have anxiety about your dental visit, contact your dentist immediately to discuss your fears prior to your visit. Open communication is key to easing those fears and helping you become more knowledgeable about those dental procedures that once gave you fear. If you are looking for a dental team that will help calm your anxieties, contact Guilliot Dental to speak with a dental professional that can help you every step of the way to fearless dental health!