It’s totally normal to be nervous when you have to see the dentist. Ask around and you’re sure to find that a good percentage of people will tell you that they dread trips to the dentist, and they may even postpone making appointments because they get so anxious. But the truth is that you do need to see your dentist regularly to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy for many years to come.
Dental appointments are a part of life, but they don’t need to be terrifying, and you can rest assured that you don’t have to feel anxiety when you go to the dentist. With the tips below, you could overcome your fear and receive the care necessary to maintain that gorgeous smile.
If your dentist knows that you’re feeling really anxious about your appointment, he or she will take your feelings into consideration and take some extra steps to help you feel as comfortable and secure as possible. You may even be able to figure out hand signals that you could use during a procedure to let your dentist know that you’re uncomfortable and you need a minute to regroup. So don’t be afraid to share your feelings with the staff, as they will surely understand where you’re coming from, and they’ll be happy to help you feel more at ease.
Choose a Calming Dentist
Some dentists specialize in working with fearful patients, and they even design their exam rooms to be more serene and relaxing for those who have anxiety. Generally, these dentists might make it a point to ask for your permission prior to continuing with a procedure, and they might also explain what’s happening and what you should expect to feel. Plus, they might even give you the chance to take a break if you need to.
Bring a Friend
Have no shame whatsoever in taking a trusted friend or family member to the dentist with you, as having a buddy there for support may help ease your fears. Bonus points if you can find someone who isn’t afraid of dentists and who has had their own dental work done in the past, as that person might be able to convince you that it isn’t a big deal after all.
You could also practice simple breathing exercises that are designed to calm you down. For example, it’s normal to discover that you hold your breath or start to breathe quickly whenever you’re nervous. You might also notice that your breath is shallow when you’re anxious. By focusing on your breath, you could increase oxygen flow throughout your body and decrease those stressful feelings.
Try this: breathe in to the count of four and breathe out to the count of four in an effort to elongate and deepen the breath and slow it down. Like meditation, breathing techniques like this one may help you find your center, so go ahead and practice them before and during your appointment.
Bring Your Favorite Tunes
Ask your dentist if you could listen to some music using a pair of headphones while he or she is working on your teeth. Closing your eyes and focusing on the music may help take your mind out of the environment that you’re in and help you relax.
Ask About Sedation and Less Invasive Treatments
Hey, sometimes we need to be sedated a bit in order to be truly relaxed in the dentist’s chair. And that’s why sedation dentistry exists. You could ask your dentist about what options are available to you, such as an oral sedative, an IV sedative, general anesthesia, or the famous “laughing gas.” Discuss the benefits, as well as the potential risks, for any type of sedation that you’re thinking about using so that you and your dentist can make the wisest and safest choice for your body.
Also consider asking your dentist about less invasive options for treating teeth and gum ailments. For example, air abrasion is a technique that can be used to treat small amounts of tooth decay without having to use the dreaded drill. Woohoo! And another drill-free and anesthesia-free option for small cavities and white stains could be resin infiltration. If your dental problems are minor enough, these conservative—and far less scary—approaches might be right for you. Sounds fantastic, right?
Give Yourself a Reward
Yes, that’s correct: reward yourself for going to the dentist. If it works on kids, it can work on you too, right? So is there a designer bag that you’ve been eyeing up? Or have you been thinking about splurging on some new clothes or maybe something special for your home? Reward yourself with whatever it is that you want after you successfully go to the dentist and get through your appointment. You might be surprised by how motivated you become when you know that there’s a reward to enjoy in the end.
Is Nothing Working?
So let’s say you’ve tried all of the tips above but you’re still shaking at the thought of having to go to the dentist, and you’re even considering living with the pain of a decaying tooth because you’d rather not get in that dental chair. In this case, it may be best to see a psychologist. These professionals could help you find new ways of facing, and ultimately overcoming, your fears of the dentist for good.
Remember: It Might Not Be as Bad as You Think!
Many people who have dental phobias find that the experience turns out to be less painful and less intense than they imagined that it would be. Finding the right dentist who could help you work through your fear is definitely the first step, as he or she will know what to do to calm you down and make you feel more in control.
Like anything else in life, facing your fears at the dentist’s office is the best way to tackle your anxiety and come out stronger. Hopefully the tips above will help you do just that!