Some people are really scared of the dentist and ‘dental phobia’ is a serious problem.
Just making an appointment can get the heart racing for some. Which is strange when you consider that most dental procedures are not painful at all these days.
Given that dental health is an important part of overall health, it’s vital to overcome any fear you might have of the dentist. You need healthy gums and teeth – so not seeing the dentist is not an option.
But how to overcome the fear and love your dentist? Here are the top tips from dentists.
- Talk to your dentist
Your dentist will not automatically assume you are terrified. But if you mention that you feel anxious, the dentist will take the time to put you at ease. It will help if you can identify the source of your fear – and the timing – as modern dentistry has improved enormously over the years. Help your dentist understand your fear so that he or she can structure your visit and explain the process. Good communication is key!
- Relaxation and distraction
This could involve taking some music with you to your appointment. Or some one-sided chatter from the dentist’s assistant can be an effective distraction. Counting, making mental notes, reliving happy memories and deep breathing can also help relax your mind and body.
- Positive self-talk
It will feel weird at first, but self-talk does work to change the way your brain processes your anxiety. Your brain will catch on and adapt your physiological and psychological response to fear. Self-talk such as, “I can do this,” “anxiety, you can stay in the car,” or “my dentist likes me and will not hurt me,” can work to reduce stress and anxiety. It helps identify anxiety for what it is and gives you a sense of control.
In cases of serious dental phobia, the dentist might recommend a mild sedative (such as Valium), or administer nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to calm the nerves and your body’s response to anxiety. In extreme circumstances, a specially registered dentist might use an intravenous drug to achieve ‘conscious sedation’ (or sleep dentistry). This will depress your state of consciousness – but not leave you unconscious.
It’s important to remember that any significant dental treatment will involve an effective local anaesthetic. Gels and new techniques mean this will not be as painful as you anticipate. And definitely not as painful as a rotten tooth or gum disease. Make that appointment today.