How to Deal With Dental Anxiety: Overcoming Fear of Dentist

how to deal with dental anxiety

No matter what they say, nobody likes going to the dentist. And this is perfectly normal because at best it’s an uncomfortable experience, sitting motionless while somebody probes around in your mouth. It’s not really something anyone would look forward to.

But for some, this apprehension goes beyond normal and develops into fear or phobia. If you are one of the  5-8% of Americans who avoids going to the dentist out of fear, or the 20% who wait until the damage is done before seeking treatment, your overall health, and not just your dental health, might be suffering. In this blog, we’ll give you our advice on how to get over fear of the dentist.

First, let us define our terms. Dental anxiety, fear, and phobia are all similar but they are very different in the degree to which they are felt, and also in their cause.

Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension about the unknown, and, as we have said, everybody feels it to some extent.

Fear is caused by the known. If you’ve had painful dental treatment in the past, or you’ve heard too many of the (un)helpful horror stories people tell when you mention going to the dentist, you’ll probably be apprehensive to the point of fear about going again.

Phobia is the point where fear gets out of control. People who have dental phobia panic at the very thought of dental treatment and try to avoid the dentist at all costs.

How to Overcome Fear of the Dentist?

In order to know how to deal with dental anxiety, fear or phobia, first you have to understand what causes it. Some of these causes are:

Loss of Control

It can be a bit overwhelming to lie still in a reclining chair while somebody hovers closely over you and probes around in your mouth with metal instruments. For some people, this intimacy and loss of control are simply too much to take.

Pain

Although dental treatment has advanced considerably, it is inevitable that some treatments will involve a certain degree of pain, and thinking about it too much beforehand only makes it worse.

Embarrassment

The idea of a relative stranger examine such an intimate area as your mouth can literally make some people freak out.

Bad Past Experience

Most fears and phobias develop from traumatic experiences in our past, and dental fears are no exception.

Young man with tooth pain

Overcoming Your Dental Anxiety

Recognize Your Fear

Admit to yourself just how afraid of the dentist you are, and try to find the reason for it. Writing this down will help you identify both your specific fears and their causes.

Find the Right Dentist

You need a dentist who provides a calming, relaxing atmosphere and is willing to listen to your fears and discuss your options for dealing with them.

Try Sedation

Mild sedation before and during a dental appointment reduces stress and can keep you calm for even complicated and lengthy procedures. And because of the mild amnesiac properties of the sedatives, there are fewer bad memories to feed your fears before your next appointment.

Seek Psychological Help

If your fear of the dentist is so great you can’t even meet one to discuss ways of dealing with it, you should seek the help of a psychologist or psychiatrist to help you overcome them before it’s too late.

And remember, when you conquer your fears you’ll find that most visits to the dentist are fast and painless affairs, and we’re really not very scary at all. In fact, we’ve got your best interests at heart so book an appointment today, even if it is only to talk about your fears. We at Doral Sedation will be happy to give you some face-to-face advice.

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