Getting Past Your Dental Fears And Learning About Technology

Several years ago I decided to take a trip to the dentist after skipping multiple appointments for over 15 years. I truly had a dental anxiety and had a hard time getting over my fears. Thankfully, my dental visit went smoothly with only four cavities identified. What I did find from this dental visit was that there was a great deal of new information and technology that I had been missing out on. Laser-based technology and digital imaging are just a few examples. With this blog, I want you to understand that you can get over your fears and learn about this new technology like I did, so enjoy the information.

Tricks To Help You Overcome Your Fear Of The Dentist

Dentist Blog

Being afraid of going to the dentist is nothing to be ashamed of. While statistics can vary, it's a pretty common occurrence. Unfortunately, letting those fears stop you from routine cleanings can affect your oral and overall health, so it's important to find ways to get back in the dentist's chair. Here are five tricks you can implement that will help allay your fears and build your confidence.

Understand Where the Fear Comes From

Professionals agree—based on research—that understanding your fears helps you to better face them. So knowing what caused your fear of dentists to begin with is the first step to conquering your anxieties. Most people fear the dentist for one of the following reasons:

  1. Negative childhood experience. Recalling an unpleasant dental experience can cause fear-based anxiety about seeing one as an adult. Also, if your parent feared the dentist, you may have "picked up" your fear from them.
  2. Generalized anxiety disorder. Some anxiety disorders make it difficult to visit any sort of medical professional.
  3. Feeling a loss of control. Some people feel anxious at the thought of sitting in the chair and not being able to see everything that's going on around them.
  4. Having unhealthy teeth. If you have cavities or otherwise unhealthy teeth and gums, it's easy to feel self-conscious about the dentist seeing them.
  5. Biological mechanism for survival. According to Tiril Willumsen, a dentist and professor in Norway, some people fear the dentist because they have a deep-seated need to protect the airways.  

Talk to Your Dentist

Research has shown that hiding your fears and refusing to let people see things that you perceive to be a weakness can allow those fears to keep controlling your life and decisions you make. But making yourself vulnerable by vocalizing those fears can actually start you on the path to courageousness. There are several ways to accomplish this:

  • When you call the dentist, tell the receptionist about your fears and let them know you're anxious about your appointment. They'll probably be much more supportive than you think.
  • Ask questions about what to expect. This can be tremendously helpful for those who have fears based on loss of control.
  • Ask the dentist if you can use a hand signal. Most dentists do this automatically nowadays, but having a simple way to communicate non-verbally can let the dentist know if you're in pain, uncomfortable, or simply need to take a short break.
  • Don't be a hero. If you're in pain, speak up. Don't assume that you're wimpy if you experience pain after getting an anesthetic. Many patients require several injections. And don't feel guilty for interrupting the dentist. Most of them would much rather you interrupt them instead of having a negative experience and never wanting to come back.

Bring "Distractions"

Having something to keep you distracted during your visit can help. Bring headphones with your smartphone and listen to your favorite music. Or listen to a fun podcast or an episode of your favorite TV show. Even if you can't hold up your phone to watch the screen, hearing the character's voices can serve as a great distraction. Just be sure the volume is low enough that you can hear the dentist when they talk to you.

You can also bring some stress balls to massage in your hands, or bring a friend. You might consider calling ahead to be sure your dentist will allow a loved one tagging along in the exam area. If they don't, and this is something that's a non-negotiable for you, you might want to think about finding a dentist who will.

Breathe Properly

Learning how to breathe can help reduce your anxieties. If you find yourself getting scared while at the dentist, take a deep breath to completely fill your lungs, hold to the count of three, then slowly exhale through pursed lips. Concentrate on keeping the muscles in your face, shoulders, and stomach relaxed as you exhale. This breathing technique can help reduce anxiety.

Don't Avoid the Dentist

No mater what, don't stop yourself from going to a family dentist. Once again, research has shown that repeatedly exposing yourself to you fears can eventually lower the psychological response you have to that trigger. While it's not always realistic to have repeated trips to the dentist within a short period of time, you can ask for an initial appointment to either meet the dentist or just discuss the appointment and what you need done. With each visit, your fears should start slowly melting away. 


18 July 2017