How to Overcome your Fear of the Dentist
Fear of going to the dentist, including the whole spectrum from anxiety to actual dental phobia, is a surprisingly common occurrence. The American Association of Endodontists conducted a survey in which over 75% of respondents said they fear going to the dentist! So first, know that you’re not alone in dreading a dental visit. And be encouraged – there are some practical, tangible steps you can take to help overcome your fear of the dentist.
It can be difficult to talk about your fears, but the first recommendation is to communicate with your dentist and the dental team at the office. Maybe you’ve had a bad dental experience in your past, or view dentists as a whole with suspicion – but remember that dentists are people, just like you and me. They’ve had fears and bad experiences in their lives, too, and they know that hardly anybody actually loves going to the dentist. Your dentist will listen with understanding, and together you can develop a plan to make every visit as enjoyable as possible! In addition, sometimes dentists are able to adapt treatment to prevent certain anxiety triggers.
With your dental team, come up with a couple code words or hand signals that you can use in the middle of a dental visit. Use these to communicate when you feel anxiety creeping up, or even just uncomfortable. The hygienist or dentist will know the signal and can take a step back to give you the space you need to begin calming back down.
On your own, experiment with different relaxation techniques to learn which ones are effective in helping ease your anxiety and fear. You can download a breathing app on your phone that guides you in breathing deeply and rhythmically to counteract fearful tension. Some people benefit from counting slowly to 10, or counting backwards from 100 – giving your mind something else to focus on besides the fear. Others like to focus on different parts of the body, head to toe, consciously releasing tension and relaxing each area one by one.
Before a dental visit, avoid caffeine and sugary foods that could ramp up your system. Instead, reach for protein-rich foods, which help your body function calmly and normally. Additionally, when you head to the dentist’s office, it might be very helpful to take your earbuds with you and listen to a pre-selected playlist of calming music. You can also carry a stress ball or other small object that you can squeeze and fiddle with to occupy your hands.
Your dentist wants you to have the most enjoyable experience possible every time, and will work with you to address any and all concerns you have. The natural tendency when dealing with dental phobia is to avoid going to the dentist, but allowing potential dental problems to go unchecked negatively contributes to your anxiety in the long run. Instead, regular checkups with an understanding dentist can help you avoid many anxiety-inducing procedures. Your dentist has your back – and your teeth – in good hands!
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With over 10 years of dentistry experience in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Larsen Family Dentistry provides personable, quality, and affordable dental care to men and women of all ages. If you're looking for high quality and personal service, you've come to the right place. It is our passion to keep your smile healthy and beautiful.