If you dread going to the dentist, you are not alone. Millions of Americans have a fear of dentists. Dentophobia, a fear of dentists, can leave adults avoiding their dental appointments at all costs. Not seeing the dentist regularly can heavily and negatively impact oral health. Oral health problems are painful and could become dangerous if they aren’t properly treated. Instead of letting your fear keep you from going to the dentist, try to overcome it, or at least lessen it, with these four suggestions.
1) Your Dentist
Perhaps you dislike going to the dentist because your personal dentist doesn’t make you feel comfortable. Seeing a caring dentist can help ease your anxiety. Most dentists will be patient and gentle as they work on you to try and help you relax. Try seeing a new dentist if you feel like your dentist stresses you. Be open with your dentist about previous experiences and how dental procedures can give you anxiety or stress. See if your dentist has any suggestions on how they can help you feel more comfortable during your appointment.
2) At Home Health
One reason people don’t like going to the dentist is because of dental procedures. Some of the dental procedures can be uncomfortable or painful. The best way to avoid those less desirable procedures, like fillings or dreaded root canals, is to 1) take care of your teeth every day at home 2) go to the dentist for regular cleanings. Carefully brushing and flossing your teeth every day helps prevent tooth decay. It removes harmful plaque and keeps your teeth and gums healthier. At a regular dental cleaning your dentist/hygienist does a deeper cleaning and plaque removal off your teeth. Even though having the hygienist scrape the plaque off along your gum line is not exactly anyone’s favorite feeling, it beats getting a cavity filled any day.
3) Distract Yourself
Instead of fixating on scary sounds, sights, or smells during your dentist appointment, distract yourself. Listen to music or an audiobook to concentrate your mind on something else. Plus, if you are listening to something you enjoy, it could help your appointment seem to go by quicker. Try putting in earphones, turning up your music or audiobook, closing your eyes, and focusing solely on what you are listening to.
You can also try a completely opposite approach than distracting yourself. Ask your dentist to tell you what he is about to do before he does anything. This way you can mentally prepare yourself for whatever your dentist is doing. Part of why people fear the dentist is because they feel a lack of control. Conversing about what is currently or about to happen during a procedure can help you feel like you are gaining some of that control back.
Although the dentist’s office may not ever become something you look forward too, you have the ability to make it something that is less scary to you. Don’t avoid the dentist because of fear, but do take precautions and try things to help you feel relaxed during your visit. Your oral health is important, and overcoming your fear of the dentist is an important step in keeping your mouth healthy.