16 Aug How Your Dentist Can Help Ease Your Fears
Being afraid of the dentist isn’t something to joke about for most people. For some patients, it started with a bad visit that caused pain or other problems. Other people have other phobias or mental illness that contribute to their fear. It’s a very real problem for many dental patients. Even those who force themselves to make and keep an appointment regardless of their fears often find it a stressful experience from start to finish.
Taking care of your teeth is important, though. Allowing your fear of the dentist to keep you from making an appointment can lead to other health problems later. Often, your gums and teeth are early indicators of other illnesses or issues. Not going to the dentist means some preventable problems may be missed until it’s too late.
For patients who are afraid of the dentist or have specific anxieties, it’s much better to find a dentist who can help you ease your fears. Not going for regular checkups or to deal with pain may lead to other problems later.
Meet Before the Appointment
Ask if you can visit the office and meet your dentist before the first appointment. This gives you the chance to get to know your dentist and ask plenty of questions. You’ll also know where to go and what to expect before you’re expected to get in the chair for your dental procedure.
Listen to You
Your dentist should listen to your fears, worries, and concerns about the dentist or the procedure. Someone who disregards your feelings or tells you to “Get over it” likely won’t be very comforting once you’re in their chair. Good dentists care and great dentists listen to their patients. If they don’t know what you’re afraid of, how can they help you?
Explain the Procedure
Once you’ve let your dentist know about your fears or anxieties, they should work with you to minimize your worries as much as possible. This includes explaining the procedure in detail, including how long it should last and what instruments are used. They may even walk you into the room where the procedure will be done to give you the opportunity to look around and ask more questions.
Offer a Relaxing Environment
Many dental offices have gone from scary pictures of gum disease on the wall to a much more inviting, relaxing environment over the years. This is meant, in part, to help patients who have a general fear of going to the dentist. Instead of an industrial, medical environment, you’re meant to feel more welcomed and relaxed. Every office is a little different, but if it feels like you’re in a hospital while you’re in the lobby, it may be hard to relax.
Ask for Permission to Continue
For some patients, their fear has less to do with the procedure and more about feeling out of control. Dentists can give that sense of control back to patients by asking for permission to continue throughout the procedure. This can be especially important if you’re in any kind of distress and wondering if you can take another moment.
Allow Breaks and Rest
Depending on the procedure, there are certain stopping points where a break may be possible. If it helps you to get through your appointment, ask for breaks when possible. A few moments to collect yourself may go a long way to helping you stay calm.
Television, music, books, almost anything can be a distraction from the dental procedure you’re there for and the fear and anxiety you feel. You may want to bring your own music, but find out what your dentist offers, too. Maybe watching reruns of old TV shows is exactly what you need.
Provide Sedation Options
Sometimes, no matter how calm the environment and how much you know before the appointment, you’re still too scared to continue. Sedation options from nitrous oxide to oral sedation may be available for you to help you block or overcome some of your anxiety. Your dentist should be able to explain the benefits with each. They’ll also need detailed medical information from you to make sure you’re a good candidate for sedation.
Not every dentist is equipped to help patients handle their fears and possibly overcome them. Not every patient can easily “get over” their fears of the dentist. What matters is that you find a dentist who’s caring, compassionate, and willing to help you deal with those anxieties. You deserve excellent dental care to stay healthy, and you also deserve a dentist who doesn’t ignore your fears and anxieties.