08 Nov 12 Ways to Get Over Your Fear of the Dentist
You know you need to see your local dentist, but you’re afraid – terrified. But you hate being afraid and nervous. You want to be able to go to the dentist like everyone else. Not going isn’t good for your health, but making the appointment can make you break out into a sweat.
Depending on the severity of your dental fears and anxieties, there may be several things you can do to work through and overcome them. Here are just a few ideas.
Name Your Dental Fears
Knowing that you’re afraid of “something” is much different than understand exactly what makes you so fearful. Work with a dentist or a mental health professional or take some time for self-reflection to figure out exactly what you’re afraid of. Once you can name it, you can begin to deal with it.
Talk About Your Dental Fears
Good dentists want to help you overcome your dental fears and anxieties. The best way for them to do that is to know what they are. Schedule a non-procedural appointment to meet with your dentist and talk about the things that scare you. Your dentist may be able to offer solutions to help overcome those fears or information to help alleviate them.
Bring Someone With You
If you have someone in your life that calms and soothes you just by being there with you, bring them to your dental appointments. Talk to your dentist ahead of time and ask if your friend or family member can sit in the exam room with you, as well. They may be able to provide a distraction and help you if your fears begin to overwhelm you.
Start Slow to Reduce Your Fears
You don’t have to rush into anything. Think about what you fear and work with your dentist to start slowly. You may come for a basic cleaning with no x-rays. Maybe you have a minor procedure and build up to the bigger one you really need. Depending on your fears and the procedure, you may be able to take baby steps in order to build confidence and reduce your fears.
Try Relaxation Methods
If you have a general anxiety about the dentist, relaxation methods can work to reduce your stress levels. Breath deeply before the procedure and during, if possible. Try meditation the night before and the morning of your dentist appointment. There are plenty of guided options online that can walk you through finding a centered, calm place and help you relax.
Talk to your dentist about bringing in your smartphone or another device to listen to podcasts or music. The office may have televisions you can watch during the procedure. If you can take your mind off of what’s happening around you, you might find it’s easier to get through your dental procedure.
Ask About Sedation
Some fears can’t be “cured” with music or deep breathing. Talk to your dentist about sedation options. Nitrous oxide is the safest and easiest method that allows you to relax during the procedure. If that’s not enough, you may want to consider oral sedation. Your dentist can determine whether you’re a good candidate for this type of sedation.
Positive reinforcement is an excellent way to build better habits and give yourself something to look forward to. Whenever you keep a dental appointment or confront a fear in a healthy way, reward yourself. Take yourself to lunch, download new music, or do anything else that feels like a luxury as a way to say, “Way to go!” when you confront one or more of your dental fears and anxieties.
Some methods for overcoming fears are specific to the fear you have. Here are a few ideas to try if these dental fears apply to you.
- Use earplugs to block out noise if the sound of the dental equipment bothers you.
- Hold, handle, and pick-up the dental tools that scare you before the appointment begins.
- Ask about the procedure in detail if you’re afraid of the unknown.
- Ask for breaks during your visit to regroup and calm yourself.
Do not feel bad if these methods don’t erase your dental fears or anxieties. You may need more help, or you may simply need more time. Work with a patient dentist who understands your fears and will help you find ways to work through and, eventually, overcome them. You don’t have to go through this alone. Your dental and overall health are tied together. It’s much better to move slowly to reduce your fears than to stay afraid and never go see the dentist again.