Whether you have a mild or more intense fear of the dentist, you can find practitioners who are attuned to your anxiety and help you get the dental care you need.
Going to the dentist, and your experience there, is easily informed by your earliest experience. Clearly, if your childhood dentist frightened you in anyway or if you had an uncomfortable – or even painful – experience, you’ll take that anxiety with you into adulthood. Luckily, you are not alone and there are tried and proven ways to curb any anxiousness (and even actual fear) of the dentist. A fear of the dentist can produce almost as much anxiety as fear of flying.
Fear of Dentistry is also called:
- dental phobia
- dentist phobia
- dental anxiety
A phobia of the dentist causes an intense – albeit commonly unfounded fear. If you suffer from such an ailment – and as many as 75% of people have some form of fear – don’t keep it to yourself. You should let your dentist and their office staff know of your anxiety. Look for dentists that acknowledge the issue and are prepared and equipped to deal with patients who are apprehensive about the dentist. For example, consider a clinic that is known for being caring and understanding to their patients.
Schedule Appointments Before or After Work
Anxiety about a visit to the dentist can be the result of any number of issues, and can include anxiety about having to leave work for your appointment. This may be a small issue, but there is an inherent stress with going into work, trying to get what you need done, rushing off to an appointment and then coming back to the office with piles of work to do. An office that can provide you with an early morning or early evening appointment will alleviate such issues.
Don’t put off going to a dentist because of anxiousness, anxiety, fear, or phobias. On your first visit to a dentist’s office – or your first visit in awhile – you should expect the following to happen (either in the first of subsequent visits, but before any major work will be done):
Teeth cleaning – Done by either the dentist or a technician, this gentle scraping/cleansing removes the build-up of tartar and plaque
Thorough Exam – The dentist will look closely at your teeth, examine your gums as well as your mouth, and look for any signs of disease or other issues. For example, a dentist can tell if you’re grinding or clenching your teeth at night (and it’s an issue because it wears at the enamel on your teeth!).
X-Rays – Some people are reluctant to have x-rays done, whether because they have a fear of radiation or of the inherent cost of a full-set of x-rays. But x-rays are critical in dental care, because issues that can’t be detected by the aforementioned exam may be found. There could be impacted teeth, cysts, abscesses, jawbone issues or tumours, as well as between-the-teeth decay.
Know that a serious anxiety can prevent a person from getting desperately needed medical care. You’ll find people avoiding certain types and temperatures of food, or who chew on only one side of their mouths, avoiding a sensitive tooth. The longer someone delays having it checked by a dentist, the more time further decay or infection can set in.
If you feel you have a lack of control while in the dentist’s chair, you’re not alone. You’re lying in a vulnerable position, a bright light shining upon your face and a dentist hovering over your head.
The Best Tips
Be assertive – if you’re not comfortable, haven’t been given enough anaesthesia, don’t be afraid to say something. If you can’t talk, wave your arm. The dentist will stop immediately to find out what’s wrong.
Step-by-Step – a dentist familiar with issues will tell you exactly what will happen while they’re working on you, make sure you’re comfortable throughout by asking if you are okay, and will take breaks when you need them.
Distractions – other things that may help are earphones and music to distract you, relaxation techniques, and you can even discuss possible sedation (sleep or partial-sleep dentistry).
Just follow these tips and you should be on your way to making your dentist appointments less stressful.