Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Are you scared of the dentist?

Ease your Dental Fears

Dental phobia is a big reason people suffer serious and sometimes painful complications with their teeth and gums. Delaying or avoiding dental visits because of the anxiety they may cause leads to the potential for a much more serious situation. A fear of dental procedures is quite common, and can range from a mild case of butterflies to full-blown panic. Here are some simple steps you can take to help ease your fear, and enjoy the benefits of great oral health with regular visits to the dentist.

Identify the root cause of your fear

It’s important that you can define your fear so that both you and your dentist can work toward a comfortable solution. The majority of people who suffer from dental anxiety have had a bad experience in the past. Understanding how dental procedures have changed since then and talking them over with your dentist can go a long way towards feeling more at ease the next time.

For others, it’s memories of the sights, sounds, and smells of a dentist office that give them the heebie-jeebies. Today’s contemporary dentist offices use soothing d├ęcor to create a relaxing environment, and modern dental equipment is far less jangling to the nerves. Talk with your dentist about some ways you can make your visit a more pleasurable sensory experience.

Many people perceive a lack of control in the dental chair. Lying down can make us feel defenseless and vulnerable. To help with your sense of control, your dentist can allow you to sit upright while the two of you discuss exactly what will be taking place during the procedure, and let you ask questions until you are comfortable proceeding. It can also help to visualize yourself in other situations where you’re lying down and completely relaxed, like on a lounge chair at the beach or in a hammock under a shady tree.

If your anxiety stems primarily from needles, you are certainly not alone. While no one relishes anesthetic injections, modern techniques have made this phase of a dental procedure much less terrifying. Numbing gel applied to the injection site is extremely effective, and when left on long enough, it’s possible to feel nothing at all! Be up front with your dentist if you dread the injection. There are several things your dentist can do to make you much more comfortable with the process.

Use Effective Coping Techniques

The best way to alleviate your fears is to talk them over with your dentist. Knowledge is power, and the more you understand about the procedure, the more in control you will feel in the midst of it. Consider making an appointment simply to discuss what needs to be done and what to expect each step of the way. This takes the anxiety off the table during the first visit, and allows you to process the information you’ve received before your appointment for the actual procedure.

Try using distraction techniques prior to getting into the chair. Bring along a riveting book to hold your attention in the waiting room, or listen to music or an entertaining podcast through your headphones. Divert your fearful thoughts by concentrating on enjoyable plans you may have later in the day, or focus on a reward you have agreed to treat yourself to after your visit. It also helps to think about how you’ll benefit from the visit – maybe you’ve been experiencing ongoing pain that will vanish once you’re done, or perhaps eating will become more enjoyable.

If your dental fears run deep, there’s a great online resource with more advice for identifying and overcoming your fears and additional tips for increasing your comfort level. The non-profit website even includes a forum where you can discuss your anxieties with others who may be experiencing the same feelings you are.

If it’s been a while since you’ve visited your dentist out of fear or dread, it helps to know the industry bears little resemblance to what you may remember as a kid. Your dentist will make your comfort a top priority and you’ll reap the benefits of regular visits for years to come.

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