Are you anxious whenever you think of the dentist? No person looks forward to dental appointments due to the annoying sound of the instruments, the smell of tooth dust, and the discomfort while sitting in the chair.
Nevertheless, some individuals develop dentophobia, referring to an extreme form of anxiety manifested with avoidance, nausea, sweating, shaking, and panic attacks. Since going to the dentist has to be done at some point, people should overcome their fear.
When looking for family dentistry, such as Eschenbach Dental, make sure the team works in the best interest of patients. Doctors should understand and address the fears of every patient.
The following tips will help you overcome your dental anxiety.
Understand your fear
The first thing to help you overcome your fear of the dentist is to understand your anxiety. You aren’t supposed to be embarrassed by your phobia, as plenty of people worldwide feel the same way as you before scheduling a dental appointment. It’s important to make a distinction between fears and phobias since the latter is much stronger than the former.
For instance, individuals who fear the dentist dislike going to the office and postpone their appointments until it’s absolutely essential for their teeth to get checked/fixed. Despite the reluctance they have towards the sound of the instruments, they eventually sit down in the chair.
In contrast, people with dentophobia experience severe fear and anxiety just by thinking about the dentist. It’s common for these individuals to go through panic attacks and nightmares, which complicates overcoming the phobia. Every person coping with a form of dental anxiety should figure out the source of the phobia.
The most common cause of dental anxiety is a traumatic dental or healthcare experience patients have been subjected to in the past. People suffering from generalized anxiety and depression also tend to fear the dentist. Some individuals experience dental anxiety because they believe the mouth is a personal area, which is invaded during dental treatments.
Moreover, people having trust issues or a fear of losing control are often afraid of the dentist. Also, individuals having agoraphobia or claustrophobia are believed to be more scared of attending dental appointments. These conditions seem to enhance dentophobia, as agoraphobia is being afraid of situations you can’t escape, whereas claustrophobia is the well-known fear of closed spaces. Agoraphobia is most common among young adults and teenagers, but symptoms can occur to some adults as well.
Have a consultation
Having a consultation with your dentist is an important step in overcoming your fear/phobia. These consultations are supposed to provide patients with answers to all of their questions to minimize anxiety. Your dentist should understand your anxiety and find a way to address it instead of just reassuring you that you won’t feel afraid.
It’s paramount for dentists to keep patients informed about every step of the procedure prior to it, as well as during the appointment. Also, they should frame dental procedures in layman’s terms for patients to understand them better. This type of behavior technique is excellent to use in patients who find dental terms confusing and scary.
Use relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques seem to be helpful to plenty of patients in the process of overcoming their dentophobia. For example, practicing breathing exercises before the appointment, such as deep breathing, might genuinely alleviate the anxiety of individuals. Make sure to breathe rhythmically by inhaling and exhaling at intervals of four seconds.
Another way to minimize your dental anxiety is by distracting yourself with different media during the visit. The majority of dentists enable patients to listen to relaxing music or watch television to minimize their fear. They provide patients with tablets and MP3 players before the procedure.
Furthermore, if a dentist doesn’t provide any of these things, the least he/she can do is play soothing music, which has a relaxing effect. Some people use stress balls as a method of distraction. Not only that, but there are also a lot of emotional, physical, and psychological benefits of stress balls that can help with your fear of dentist.
In case relaxation techniques don’t seem to alleviate your fear, you should consider sedation dentistry. The use of sedatives is recommended to patients with dentophobia and severe anxiety who wish to have no recollection of the experience. Under the influence of sedatives, individuals neither hear nor smell anything linked to the treatment.
Three types of sedation can be administered to patients in compliance with sedation medicine and administration laws. For instance, mild sedation is the lightest type of sedative drug, taken orally before the treatment. It’s suitable for individuals with mild anxiety as they stay awake while the treatment lasts. Despite being awake, people feel relaxed and groggy during the procedure. The process of recovery from mild sedations takes several hours.
Moderate sedation is appropriate for individuals with moderate anxiousness. Although patients are awake, the state of relaxation is much deeper. Therefore, if undergoing moderate sedation, you should be accompanied by someone to drive you home following the appointment.
Deep sedation is the best option for individuals with a severe form of dentophobia. Patients aren’t conscious throughout the treatment, meaning they experience no pain or discomfort. Hence, they should be accompanied to the appointment, as they’ll be in no state to drive home afterward.
Take a friend with you
Another practical tip for overcoming your fear of the dentist is to take a friend to accompany you to the appointment. This person will distract your thoughts prior to the treatment while waiting with you in the waiting room. You can even ask the doctor to allow him/her to be present in the procedure room throughout the procedure.
Make sure to reward yourself following the appointment for your bravery by going shopping with your friend or doing a fun activity. Why not go to the nearest shopping mall, see a movie, or go to the local amusement park. Consequently, you’ll be associating your dental visits with rewards, not fear.
Don’t let your dentophobia affect your oral health.
Find a way to overcome it!