If you or someone you know would rather go shark diving than visit the dentist, you’re not alone. It’s a feeling that is shared by many people that can be caused by a range of things. Dental anxiety can come from a memory in childhood, a bad experience with dental or even a fear stemming from something not even related to the dentist.
Whatever it might be, dental phobia is very normal. Most people also know the dentist is a safe place, but the fear still continues. The problem is this fear can prevent people not only booking more complex treatments but also from going to regular check-ups. This means that it can have a really big impact on dental health over time.
Avoiding the dentist due to fear or anxiety might work for individuals in the short term. But, this strategy quickly compounds dental problems and makes them worse. If you’re not careful, you could end up needing emergency help where overcoming your fear is the only option.
Thankfully there are many safe and proven ways to address these feelings early and let go of dentist fear. If you’re scared of the dentist but need treatment, follow these tips to put your mind at ease and ensure your smile and health don’t get put off any later.
Get Your Control Back
Fear can be caused by a seeming lack of control over a situation. For this reason, it helps patients to learn about treatments before they start and understand what will happen from start to finish. It might feel counter-intuitive, but it’s a good idea to ask about the dental equipment to be used.
Talk to your dentist – they are very friendly! Tell them what’s on your mind, and what you think you can handle. They will be able to provide the right advice and care to help you through it. If you’re really uneasy about it, you can use a signal system with the dentist to say when you need a break.
Use A Distraction
Many dentist offices are actually equipped with a range of devices and methods to distract you during your visit. Often pain is only a problem when it’s front of mind so for some, distractions are all that’s needed to get through their treatment without thinking too much about it.
Some dentists have virtual reality glasses or can provide music to take your mind elsewhere. If you talk to your dentist about this, they are often very smart at being able to ask questions and have a conversation that puts the treatment out of your head.
Relax And Visualise
The last thing you want to be told when afraid is simply to ‘relax’. However, fear starts and ends in the mind so using tested strategies to relax the mind is the fastest path to moving past dental anxiety.
Physical relaxation methods are easy to use and improve your state of mind quickly. Breathing methods such as diaphragmatic breathing are ideal for this, as are muscle relaxation techniques used in yoga. Visualising yourself in a calm and serene place will bring peaceful thoughts to your mind which will decrease fear superbly.
Sleep dentistry, which is also called intravenous sedation, is a popular treatment method that makes dentist visits simple for those with deeper fears or anxieties. It’s been providing those who would totally avoid the dentist due to fear a way to have dental treatment and be totally asleep.
When you choose sleep dentistry with your local dentist, you are simply given an anaesthetic before your treatment. This is exactly the same as a hospital and is overseen by medical professionals. You are put into a deep and relaxing state where you can’t hear, feel or remember anything. At the end, you wake up feeling calm and safe with the treatment all finished.
If you are mildly anxious, then valium or laughing gas (nitrous oxide) can be administered to help you with these fears.
Know Your Fear Of The Dentist Can Be Fixed
All of the above methods work wonders to remove dental phobias. At the end of the day, however, the most important tip is to recognise that the fear is not real and it can be overcome. Fear is a learned behaviour which can be unlearned, and modern dental technology ensures you are always safe and in good hands.
Being scared of the dentist is a common issue but it is one that can be overcome. Many people have already used these tips above to get through it – and you or someone you know can use them effectively, too. Book your next dental appointment and give them a try. Your dentist and his team will be there to help you every step of the way, and you will come out the other side with a clear mind, as well as a happy smile!
Contact Dr George Olstein today with any questions or to make an appointment.