- Your fears are normal.
Fear of dentists is very common. Let’s face it — going to the dentist is not fun; dentists do poke and prod a sensitive area of your body. Often, an upsetting childhood dental experience has lasting effects into adulthood. Sometimes, people “inherit” fears from parents, whose experiences with dentists may have been traumatic. But dentists are better trained, today, and have tools and techniques to minimize discomfort.
- Find a “good” dentist for you.
Finding a dentist who understands that you are anxious and will work with you will increase your comfort. Many dentists offer practices specifically targeted toward fearful people and offer a variety of solutions that may include sedation, hypnosis, and lots of reassurance. Talk to people you know about their dentists to find one who is sympathetic. Schedule an office visit to meet the dentist without doing any dental work. This will give you an opportunity to evaluate the office. Be prepared to pay for the dentist’s time. If the office finds this a strange request, move on — this is not the dentist for you.
- Sedation is an option.
The dentist can provide a number of sedation options. They range from giving you a pill that you take an hour before coming to the office to calm you, to general anesthesia. Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is one option that can relax you. Avoid it, however, if you are pregnant. While Novocain will numb your mouth so you cannot feel pain, many people are fearful of the needle. A dentist can use a local anesthetic to numb the area before beginning the injection.
- You don’t have to do everything at once.
Schedule an examination so you can meet the dentist. Then come back for a cleaning. A couple of successful, low-stress experiences will help you cope.
- For extreme fears, you may need to turn to a good psychologist or counselor.
You may have so much anxiety about the dentist’s office you can’t even bring yourself to walk into the office. Phobias can be treated using techniques such as desensitization therapy, which is very effective.
- Bring something like a stress ball and keep it in your hand.
Squeeze it hard. It will release your stress.
- Take a “fun book” to the dentist or maybe even listen to music while waiting.
- Breathe slowly, hold your breath a bit, and then slowly exhale.
If you feel you are having a panic attack it helps to breathe deeply from your stomach than from the chest to the stomach.
- Bring a friend with you or a family member as well.
Make sure this person is comfortable with dentists and not the high-strung sort.
- Envision how you would like your appointment to go and meditate on a positive experience rather than the “what if” of the situation.
Envision how wonderful it will be to have a beautiful, healthy smile.
- Think positive thoughts!
Remember: When you get through this, you will prove to yourself you are a strong person, who takes care of your body. This will be over soon–and don’t forget to reward yourself!
- Set a date after your dentist appointment to do something fun.
Reward yourself if you get through your dental appointment without any serious interruptions. Asking the doctor or nurse for a minute to compose yourself in the middle of treatment is acceptable. Make your reward something special. You’ve earned it!
At 4M Dental, clients have options when it comes to sedation and the team specializes in treating scaredy cats. They understand dental anxiety and work through it nearly every day. They also offer free consults so you can see if their office and team is the right fit for you. 4M Dental Implant Centers are one-stop-shops, so you rarely get referred to another dental office. They do it all! Learn more at www.4Mdentalimplants.com.
Members of the editorial and news staff of the Las Vegas Review-Journal were not involved in the creation of this content.