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Having a fear of the dentist is a really common reason for people missing appointments or not making them in the first place. You would be a very rare person to actually enjoy the dentist, but you shouldn’t allow your fear to get in the way of your dental and oral health.
You might think that your oral health is just about brushing your teeth regularly and not eating too many sugary snacks. Although both will help to keep your teeth in good condition, there are other reasons that you should see your dentist regularly. There are several conditions that are linked to your oral health including cardiovascular disease and endocarditis and seeing your dentist regularly will help to identify any problems before they can get out of hand.
Like any fear or anxiety, the first thing you need to do is admit to yourself that you are afraid. This will help you to tackle the problem head-on, rather than pretending that it’s nothing, or there is another reason you can’t go. Once you have admitted there is a problem, the next thing to do is start looking for some coping strategies.
Choosing the Right Dentist
Just like choosing your doctors, choosing a dentist who is right for you is vital for helping you to trust that they have your best interests at heart and will understand your needs. If you struggle to get to the dentist during usual hours, have a serious phobia or want to make sure that all treatments will happen at the same practice, The Dentistry Place is a good starting point. They understand that lots of people are apprehensive about visiting the dentist and will help to guide you through your appointments and alleviate your fears.
When you are happy with your dentist, it will be much easier to stay calm during your appointment and, as they get to know you better, regular appointments will feel more like visiting a friend who knows you, rather than experiencing an unknown every time. And if you can find a dentist with a sense of humor, it will be even better. Like anything, visiting the dentist is something you can get used to with enough practice and settling into a routine is a good idea.
Tell Your Dentist Your Fears
There are lots of people who are afraid of the dentist and the vast majority are very understanding. If you can tell them specifically what makes you anxious, they will be able to suggest coping strategies to make your trips more comfortable. You might feel a bit embarrassed about it now, but admitting your anxiety to your dentist will give them a chance to change the way they treat you to make sure you are okay.
A great example is dealing with your fear of pain. Dentistry can cause some discomfort but your dentist can give you painkillers like laughing gas to help numb the area or even sedate you completely. You can always ask your dentist to give you further painkillers if you need them and you can be in charge of managing your discomfort if that’s what you want.
Many people don’t like feeling out of control in the dentist’s chair and worry that they can’t communicate their needs. A simple solution is to use hand signals to indicate that you would like the dentist to pause for a moment in what they are doing.
Closing your eyes and listening to music is a really good way to distract yourself, especially if you have a soothing song that will calm you down. Another idea is to listen to a podcast or a book that requires concentration.
Some dentists already have posters on their ceilings to help distract their patients. This is great because if you happen to open your eyes, you can focus on the image and not what is going on around you. If your dentist doesn’t have a poster, you can certainly suggest that they get one, or even provide your own! A bit of tack and you could be gazing up at a tropical island thinking about cocktails rather than being tempted to look at the room around you.
Your oral health is just as important as your general health and having regular check-ups is the best way to ensure your continued health. Defeating your fear of the dentist is all about finding strategies to make the appointments less scary. The dentist isn’t worth losing sleep over and they are there to help you stay healthy. And once you have your strategies in place, you won’t have anything left to worry about.
Disclosure: This is a contributed post.