Are you someone who feels calm and collected when strolling in for a dentist’s appointment? Or do you feel apprehension and fear for weeks and weeks before your scheduled appointment? Do things like anti-anxiety medication, local anesthesia or nitrous oxide just make you even more nervous?
Studies show that at least 75% of people have a minor fear when it comes to dental visits, with 10-15% of them being incredibly fearful, so fearful that they will avoid any form of dental treatment for an extended period of time. Some people even suffer from nightmares or strange dreams in regards to a dental trip, or are exceptionally careful with their teeth to avoid any need for a dentist – such as excessive brushing or avoiding certain kinds of food.
This can be very detrimental to your overall dental health, making your teeth weak, creating dental or gum infection issues and making any future dental work that much more inconvenient.
The good news is there are many ways to overcome or suppress a fear of dental procedures. It is helpful for many people just to know that they are not alone, and statistics often show that people can get over extreme fear of dental work and learn to have dental procedures while feeling calm and confident.
Ways to Overcome Fear of the Dentist
First, we have to question why so many people are fearful of the dentist. Knowing the problem can help to fix the problem. No one is born being afraid of dental visits. So everyone who is afraid has learned somewhere that dental treatment is something to fear. Some people learn this because they’ve had previous bad dental experiences. Many people have a fear of loss of control and they may choose to avoid dental treatment for most of their lives.
In addition, a scared parent makes a scared child. Parents who convey a paralyzing fear of the dentist will only make their child afraid, oftentimes well into adulthood. These children will become adults that will refuse to not only visit the dentist, but also refuse to learn that the dentist can be something other than terrifying, painful or uncomfortable.
You can also inadvertently reinforce a fear of the dentist. If you visit and become increasingly anxious and afraid, with your heart rapidly beating and stomach aflutter, the symptoms of fear can be difficult to overcome. If you force yourself into the uncomfortable situation, the memories of fear will be with you forever, making you constantly afraid of visiting the dentist for any dental procedures.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how kind and gentle the dentist is, even if the procedure is pleasant you will remember being fearful. Some dental fear is not even controllable, it is at a subconscious level of automatic fear – so how can you change it?
Here are a few tips to overcoming dental fear:
- Find a highly recommended dentist, meet with them first and make sure the office is welcoming and the dentist is comfortable and friendly.
- Let them know of your fear and ask any questions you may have.
- Discuss a concrete plan, and get a full plan of the procedures happening each and every time you visit.
- Take a deep breath and relax as much as you can.
Don’t be afraid of the dentist, take control! Replacing poor feelings towards dental procedures can take a while, and though you may never get rid of all of your dental anxiety these tips can help you feel a little more comfortable and help you maintain your dental health.