For some people a fear of Dental work is a very real thing and it can affect their whole lives. Poor Dental health can lead to problems in their physical health as well as creating insecurities about their appearance.
One of the goals in my practice is to make sure that everyone feels comfortable in my chair having work done. I want coming to see me to be a fun occasion that we can both enjoy. So here are some quick tips to help overcome a fear of seeing a Dentist.
Come in for an initial meeting. This is something that I think a lot of people overlook. If you’re not comfortable with your dentist on a personal level, then you won’t feel comfortable with them poking at a sensitive part of your body. Schedule an initial appointment to come in and meet your dentist. Ask questions. Talk to them. Make sure that you two can communicate clearly with each other in a way that you can both listen effectively. Communication is an excellent place to begin feeling comfortable.
Make an extra long appointment. If you know that you’re going to need some extra time to get your anxiety under control or will just need some time to work through things slowly, then make sure it’s scheduled. If your dentist has set aside a longer block of time than normal for your procedure than they won’t feel rushed to push you through things so they’re not late with their next patient. And if you schedule a longer lunch hour or make sure your schedule is clear well after your appointment then you won’t feel pressured to rush through things. Remember, if you push yourself through something you’re not quite ready for you will only be reinforcing that fear. Take your time!
Baby Steps. If fear of the Dentist has been a problem for too long then a lot of damage can happen. And a lot of damage can mean a lot of work. This can be really intimidating. Don’t feel like you need to take care of all of the problems all at once. Start with one thing at a time and give yourself a chance to begin to feel more comfortable in the Dentist’s chair. Start with a simple exam. Come in to talk about your treatment plan – sometimes just sitting in the chair without any work being done can train your mind to realize it’s not always going to be a horrible experience. Then come in for a basic cleaning. Don’t jump right in to the root canals or extractions until you feel as though your trust in you Dentist is in place.
Bring headphones. Studies have shown that music can reduce pain and anxiety levels. When you come in for your procedures bring your iPod, old Walkman, phone, or whatever you use to listen to music. Not only will the music help you to relax but it can also block out any noises that might be an additional source of anxiety. Just make sure that you’ve worked out a way to communicate with your dentist without hearing – prearrange a signal to pause the music.
Get professional help. For some people the Dental phobia is too strong to work out on their own, and that’s okay. Many people have benefited from seeking the help of a therapist to help them overcome their fears. I’ve also heard of people having great success with alternative treatments such as hypnotherapy or even acupuncture.