05 Sep Dental Phobia: How to Calm Your Fears
Do you suffer from dentophobia or odontophobia? These dental phobias can strike many people, and it makes going to the dentist the scariest experience in the world. Millions of Americans don’t get the dental care that they need, and while there are many reasons for this, fear and anxiety are one of them. According to Peter Milgrom, the director of the Dental Fears Research Clinic at the University of Washington, he estimates that between 5% and 8% of Americans avoid the dentist due to fear and anxiety.
Fear will make a person suffer, even when they are in severe pain and it’s evident that there is an issue with their mouth. They clearly have a problem that needs to be resolved by a dentist. However, this fear prevents many from seeking proper preventative care, and the consequences can go far beyond lost teeth and dental pain. Unfortunately, lack of preventative care can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. In fact, the state of your mouth says a lot about your health, as it acts as a “mirror” to the rest of your body.
Luckily, there are a variety of methods that are available that will help alleviate the feelings of fear and anxiety every time you visit the dentist. If you suffer from a dental phobia, check out these 5 tips that can help you overcome your fears:
- Do your research
When you are looking for a dentist, do your research. Ask your family and friends who they go to and see how they feel about them. If they love their dentist and give them a good review, you should check them out further. Nowadays, many doctors have an online presence, and there are websites out there that will rate and review doctors so you can get a much broader opinion. Sometimes you can even get a good feel on a potential dentist’s bedside manner from reading other patient reviews.
- Pay the office a visit
Once you find a potential dentist, ask if you can visit the office so you can get a feel for the office, as well as give you the opportunity to speak to the staff. Keep in mind while not all dentists have the ability to do this, some dentists will meet with you before your first appointment so you can talk to them first hand. This can help you feel more at ease by allowing you to ask questions. This can help you find a doctor that you like and can trust.
- Inform your dentist about your fears
Once you find a dentist you are comfortable with, tell your dentist how you feel and express to them any fears that you may have. Being open with your dentist will allow you feel more in control, and will assist him or her in finding the best ways to address and manage your fears. This can include your dentist explaining to you a procedure beforehand, as well as give you a verbal walk through while the procedure is being performed so you never have to wonder what’s coming next. Having open communication with your dentist can help you fully understand the work being done.
- Throw away old preconceived notions
Throw away any ideas on “ancient” dental procedures, as dentistry as a whole has come quite a long way. No longer are you destined to be uncomfortable, as modern dentistry offers updated treatment options, as well as new methods to help you feel more comfortable during a procedure. In addition, if you are afraid of having sharp, metal tools in your mouth, ask your dentist if you can hold the tools first, as this will help them seem less “foreign” to you.
It is recommended to practice breathing and relaxation techniques before your appointment, as well as during the appointment. Do what you need to do before an appointment to relax; take a bubble bath, listen to music, do yoga, or even meditate. Be sure to schedule your dentist appointment in the morning, or on a day that isn’t already packed with other obligations, as this will help prevent “stresses” from piling up before you go to your appointment. You can also find a dentist who offers additional medication options that can help you relax during your visit. Many dentists recommend the use of sedation, anti-anxiety medications, or nitrous oxide for patients who are extremely nervous.