Some Tips for Dealing with Dental Fear
While it is estimated that up to 75% of US adults have some degree of dental fear, some 5%-10% of US adults do not go to the dentist not because they cannot afford to, but because they have an intense dental fear and anxiety. This causes many people to not have routine checkups and leads them to only seek dental care when something big has happened or there is an emergency like a severe toothache or dental abscess.
The first step in trying to deal with dental fear is to seek the root of the problem. Why are you afraid of the dentist? Did you experience a painful dental treatment in the past? Are you afraid because of the drills and those intense “dental clinic smells”? Are you afraid of the pain or on the verge on having a panic attack at the sight of a needle? Once you can determine the source of the problem it will likely be easier to find a solution.
Is it your Dentist, or their office? If so, find another dentist.
Ask yourself, “Do I like my Dentist as a person?” and “Is my Dentist’s office and calm and relaxing place?” If the answer to either or both of these questions is no, for whatever reason, it may be time to choose a new dentist. There are many skilled dentists and you should be with one with whom you feel comfortable. Try looking for a dental professional who is specialized in offering dental care to anxious patients.
These dental professionals typically have offices that are anything but the classic cold, white, smelly dental office. In fact, they look to welcome their patients in comfortable and relaxing environments, and as specialists they make sure to explain every detail of the dental procedure, and utilize the “show and tell technique” (first showing the instruments and then explaining what it is used for).
Often, when you know what is happening and what will happen next, you can handle your anxiety much better.
Other ways a dentist can help you cope with your anxiety:
- They frequently ask for permission to continue throughout your treatment
- They offer you the opportunity to have them stop when you feel uncomfortable, giving you the feeling of having some control
- They take frequent breaks, engage you with conversation, and only work when you are ready. Additionally. they are extremely patient, and when needed, spend the necessary time on a certain procedure (sometimes double the typical time).
Never go alone to your appointment
Many patients are truly comforted when they need to see the dentist and they are accompanied by a spouse, a dear family member or a friend. Knowing that someone is waiting for you outside, or even in the room with you, can give you comfort and help you fight off that dental fear much easier.
Take your ipod, your headphones, and ask your dentist if you can listen to your favorite music during the treatment. Not having to hear the dental drill, the suction and the other dental clinic noises can make a huge difference in lowering the levels of your anxiety. You can just close your eyes; listen to your music and let your mind wonder and think of just about anything else other than the fact that you are sitting in a dental chair.
Ask your dentist about sedation options
If none of the above options work for you, then you can consider and ask about the many dental sedation options available. Many of these can significantly help patients with extreme dental fear. Some of these options include: oral sedation (pills), IV sedation and nitrous oxide “Laughing Gas” sedation. In consultation with your dentist you can decide which type of sedation is best for you.
In summary, you should never let your fear of the dentist keep you away from your regular checkups. There are ways to calm your anxiety while getting the care you need. Neglecting your dental hygiene and ignoring the dentist, does not make the problem go away, it just makes it so that when you finally do have to see your dentist, it will be an emergency and then there really may be something to fear.
Staff @ MexicaliMedicalGuide
April 7, 2013