Afraid of the dentist? A dental coward's survival guide
It's pretty hard to confuse going to the dentist with a walk in the park. Fear of pain, awful sounds and the unknown leads to high anxiety intense enough that, for many people, the only way to deal is to ultimately opt out and avoid the dentist altogether. Some level of anxiety about going to the dentist is normal, but neglecting your health as a result doesn't have to be the only solution.
Here are a few ways to squash the fears for the dental coward in all of us.
Choose the right dentist
Look for a dentist who is not only skilled and competent, but is caring, patient and understanding of your fears. Check online, ask other people about their dentists and call a dental referral line. Be sure to talk to the assistant that answers the phone about your anxiety and see what they have done for patients in the past.
For many, the fear of the dentist stems from the sound of the dreaded drill. If this is the case, ask if you can wear headphones and listen to your favorite music. This can also help drown out the noise coming from the next room over. If it's the sight of something, bring along a photo of something or someone to look at instead.
Many problems at the dentist are caused by hyperventilating or holding your breat,h which makes you more tense. Instead, practice breathing by fixating on a spot on the ceiling, the edge of the light, a painting, something that will enable you to focus and breathe evenly and slowly, both through your mouth and your nose, which will help you feel more in control.
You will not win any awards for pain tolerance at the dentist. If you feel pain or discomfort, by all means, speak up. You might arrange a signal ahead of time that will alert the dentist to stop what they are doing. Something like raising your hand or three blinks of your eye. You'll feel more in control if you know you can stop if you need to.
Familiar and relaxing scents can work wonders in the sterile air surrounding the dentist chair. Bring along your favorite fruit, dab drops of your scented oils on a card or take a bag of potpourri to help relax and remind you that the surroundings you are in are only temporary.
Being afraid of the dentist is normal, but don't neglect the health of your mouth and body because of it.