Fear of visiting the dentist, or dentophobia as it is sometimes called, is relatively common. It can sometimes be a big problem—especially if it keeps you from seeking a needed procedure or even cosmetic dentistry work that could improve your day to day life. While this fear is a very real thing, it is possible for you to overcome it so that you can take care of those necessary dental tasks and improve your overall dental health. If you are dreading that standard or cosmetic dentistry appointment or are putting it off altogether, keep the following tips in mind.
- Tell Your Dentist – Make sure you mention your dental fears to your dentist. He or she may have certain techniques that will make your procedure easier, and it will help if the dentist knows to expect you to be nervous.
- Read Up – Dental techniques have changed dramatically over the past few years. That procedure you are avoiding may not be as difficult and painful as you are imagining, especially if you are remembering treatments from years past.
- Get an Explanation – Have your dentist explain to you step-by-step exactly what to expect during your procedure. If things are not surprising to you, you will have less to fear from them.
- Breathe Deeply – Before you sit in the chair and while you wait for him or her to begin, take time to breathe deeply. This is more than just a buzzword; taking deep breaths can help your overall level of calmness and well-being.
- Have a Safe Word – If you are very upset about the prospect of beginning, have a safe word that you can use and your dentist will stop (assuming it is safe to do so).
- Ask about Anesthesia – Some procedures can be done when you are under general anesthesia or using laughing gas. Ask your doctor if this is a possibility for your procedure. It may help you relax knowing you won't be conscious.
- Visit the Office for a Cleaning – Before you go in for a big procedure, why not visit for a simple cleaning? You can get to know the dental staff and become comfortable with the office environment first.
Finally, even if you still have that fear of the dentist inside you, remember you are not the only one—an article published in the European Journal of Oral Sciences states that around 24.3% of people have some degree of dental fear. Even if you never look forward to visiting, just know that you are in good company!