Many people have some kind of fear of the dentist. Called ‘dental phobia,’ the situation can be caused by childhood memories, the sights, smells and sounds of the equipment they use and injections. The phobia can be so severe that people go many years without visiting a dentist.
That’s obviously not an ideal situation as our dental health is incredibly important to all of us. Not only does oral health have a direct impact on our teeth, it can also affect our heart and mental health too. That makes it very important to our overall wellbeing.
We appreciate that reading this page isn’t going to solve dental phobia on its own. However, we hope to help just a little by offering some effective coping mechanisms to help overcome the fear of the dentist.
Overcoming dental phobia
Unfortunately, if you want to overcome the fear of the dentist, it has to come from within. You have to want to do it. The upside is, once you do, it’s one less thing to worry about and you can get back to enjoying a healthy mouth and beautiful smile!
So here are some tops tips to overcome dental phobia.
Find a dentist you like
Most dentists understand those who fear them and will work with patients to help overcome that phobia. Meet a few dentists, get a check-up, talk to them about your fears and when you find one you can work with, stick with them.
Make your first check-up early in the morning
For your first proper dentist’s appointment, make it early so you have less time to stress yourself out about it.
Take a friend
If you cannot face going alone you could take an understanding friend to help you cope. A calming presence can help lower stress and calm you sufficiently to get into the chair.
Agree on a signal
Agree on a signal with your dentist so they know when you need a minute. Most will have one in mind so patients can take a breath, swallow or relax.
Depending on your needs, you could begin with a check-up then a clean and scale. You could then do something else minor before accepting more in-depth treatments. This can build confidence and lower the fear of the dentist.
Break treatments up
If you have avoided the dentist for a while, you’re likely to need some treatment. Talk to the dentist and agree to break them up as much as practical.
Or get it over with
Some people might prefer to get everything done in one go. Discuss your options with your dentist and do what’s right for you.
Listen to music
Some dentists will have a radio on in the background to help relax you. Some will allow you to listen to music through headphones. Find out if your dentist of choice does either of these as music can really help take your mind off things.
Visualise or self-hypnotise
Once in the chair try to relax every muscle in your body. Start at your toes and work your way up to your neck. Imagine you can see and feel those muscles relaxing and concentrate hard on doing it. The concentration needed to relax takes your mind away from what’s going on.
Nobody is going to pretend that it’s easy to overcome the fear of the dentist because it isn’t. What we will tell you is that with the desire to do it and these great tips, it is entirely possible to overcome dental phobia forever!