Are you afraid of seeing the dentist?
Do you dread your dental appointment for weeks?
If so, you’re not alone.
Studies show that as many as 75% of people have at least some fear when visiting the dentist.
For some people its general anxiety; however, for others, it’s extreme dental phobia where they’ll break into a sweat just thinking about going to the dentist. People with dental phobia have an intense fear – so much so that they’ll avoid any dental treatments. In a recent study by the Huffington Post, it was shown that most of this fear is passed on from parent to child.
While having some nervousness every now and then while seeing the dentist is understandable, avoiding the dentist is definitely not the answer. By not seeing the dentist, you risk serious consequences for your oral health.
People with dental phobia are more at risk of gum disease and tooth loss. There may also be emotional costs involved since stained or damaged teeth can make people feel less attractive and more insecure. They may be embarrassed to smile and have lower levels of self-esteem.
People with the dental phobia may also have poorer overall health. The reason is poor oral health has been linked to several serious conditions, such as lung and heart disease.
Advances in dental techniques and technology
If it’s been a while since you’ve seen the dentist, rest assured you’ll find the experience more tolerable these days.
The majority of people who have dental fears and phobias have bad memories from childhood during their visit. Things like smells and sounds from their surgery may make them feel uneasy or even scared.
However, modern dental facilities are much warmer environments, with flowers and decorations in the waiting room, and friendly staff. Also with background music playing and quieter dental instruments smells and sounds during your visit should be less noticeable.
Dental technology has also improved making your surgery more comfortable. Pain-free treatments are now possible thanks to the dental wand and numbing gels. The dental wand is a computerized pen that slowly delivers anesthesia that is painless, so it’s perfect anyone afraid of needles. A numbing gel can also be applied to your gums prior to injections so you don’t feel anything.
Relaxation and coping techniques
If you’re feeling nervous about visiting the dentist, here are some simple ways to calm your fears:
- Find a dentist who you feel comfortable with and you can trust. Ask your friends or family members if they have anyone they can recommend.
- When you’ve found a dentist who might be a fit, visit their practice and have a look around. Check out the office, meet the receptionist and if possible, talk to the dentist about your issues.
- Once you’re ready, set up an appointment but make it in the morning. This will give you less time to dwell on it.
- Keep in mind, your first appointment is only for a checkup so you don’t have to worry about needles or drills. See this visit as an opportunity to get to know your dentist better.
- Take a friend or someone you can trust with you to your appointment. The dentist should be fine if they join you while you have your checkup.
- Agree on a mutual sign with your dentist (such as raising your hand) to let them know you need to stop or a break. This will make you feel more in control and help you relax.
- Bring a music player or book with you. This will help keep you occupied and mind off of worrying.
Dr. Paul Glassman. “Overcoming Dental Fear & Anxiety” http://www.deardoctor.com/articles/overcoming-dental-fear-and-anxiety/
Dr. Sam Daher. “Why You Should Fear The Dentist No More” http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/dr-sam-daher/dentist-fear_b_4081183.html
NHS. “Fear of the dentist” http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/dentalhealth/Pages/Fearofthedentist.aspx
The Huffington Post Canada. “Dentist Fear: Anxiety At The Dentist Passed On From Parents, Study Finds” http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/11/16/dentist-fear_n_2144477.html?just_reloaded=1