Does the thought of sitting in the dentist’s chair make you break out into a cold sweat? You’re not alone. Figures show that around 36% of adults in the US have a fear of the dentist, with 12% reporting their fear is extreme. You may not think so, but it’s a fear you can overcome. Here’s how.
Why are people so afraid of going to the dentist?
Many things can trigger a fear of the dentist, from bad memories of painful visits to worrying that you’ll need extensive and costly treatment.
Whatever your trigger, it’s important to know that missing your dental appointments can lead to some serious health problems from gum diseases to heart disease, and even dementia.
Even if you think you have a great home oral care routine, it’s no substitute for a dental checkup. Dentists can spot problems early and treat them before they become more serious.
How to overcome your fear of the dentist
Choose your dentist carefully
When you are looking for a dentist, look for someone who is experienced in treating anxious patients. A dentist is there to help you, not hurt you. Look for someone who will take their time, explain everything, and make sure you are comfortable at every stage.
Be savvy with your appointment time
Book an early appointment if you can. Book a later one and you might be anxious all day about it.
Keep communicating with your dentist
Communication can alleviate your fear of the dentist. Tell them from the get go about your fears. Agree on what you’ll do if you feel too uncomfortable, such as raising your hand to indicate that you’d like them to stop. Asking your dentist to explain step by step what they are doing can also be reassuring.
Try relaxation techniques or other treatments
Deep breathing and meditation can be helpful for anxiety, as can treatments like hypnosis for a fear of the dentist. Your doctor may also suggest treatments like cognitive behavioural therapy which can address unhelpful thoughts or behaviours you have around going to the dentist.
Look after your teeth at home
If you look after your teeth, you’re less likely to need extensive dental work. This will make dental visits far more comfortable, and less expensive. Brush for two minutes, twice per day, with a fluoride toothpaste, floss regularly, and use a mouthwash. Investing in a good tooth cleaner can help you clean those hard to reach spots in between your teeth where plaque can form.
For more articles on all things oral health, check out the rest of our blog.