How to Overcome Dental Fear

by Charlene G. Samoy  (This article was first published at South Common Dentist)

Are you afraid of going to the dentist? We call this condition ontophobia, dental phobia, dental fear, or dental anxiety. If you have experiences of being anxious seeing a dentist, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Three-fourths of adults in the USA have dental fear. This is fear of the dentist’s place and the operations happening and related to it.

This fear will hinder you from getting the dental services that you need. If you have this fear, you probably just visit the dentist’s clinic during emergency cases. This is not ideal because dental care is an important service. The teeth are one of man’s greatest assets. You must observe proper dental care as part of your hygienic routines.

What are the reasons of having dental fear?

There are two main reasons why people get into this circumstance. These are due to direct or indirect experiences.

Direct experience dental fear happens if you already had a bad experience about dental care, dentists, and other things related to your teeth. Was there a feeling of uneasiness while the dentist was pulling that tooth out of your mouth? This is going to be part of your memory bank and thinking on another dental visit may bring back these negative emotions. Was the dentist unfriendly? This will result to uncomfortable feelings next time you see a dentist.

Indirect experience dental fear is because of what you heard from others, from the media or from your own perceptions. Sometimes you might hear of shocking and exaggerated negative stories about dentist and dentistry. This might create an impression of fear.

Most children are also victims of dental fear. The media contributes to this anxiety. The children sees videos of dental clinics with scary dentists, frightening needles, gross teeth, and crying boys and girls.

How do you know that you are suffering from dental phobia?

There are clear signs that you have dental phobia. First, you cannot sleep the night before the dental appointment. You seem to imagine or even dream of negative things about the dentist and your teeth. This makes you to have trouble getting relaxed and cannot get enough rest. Which in turn makes you feel more stressed. Second, you get sick just thinking about going to the dentist. Sometimes the “mind over matter” gets real when you have dental phobia.  Third, you feel nervous when you are already in the clinic, in the waiting area, or in the dentist’s chair.

This type of fear is more psychological in nature and unreal. So how do you overcome it?

Dentists know this type of fear and they have adopted some changes to help their patients.  Many dentists don’t wear the stereotype all-white attire. This is because people associate negative things with this all-white wardrobe. They also try to assess whether their patient have this fear before undergoing any treatment. They make sure they communicate in relaxed and friendly tone of voice to ease their patients.

Here are some things that you can do to make your visit to the dentist less anxious and stressful.

Communicate your fear

Before undergoing dental treatment or cleansing, tell the dentist your uneasiness. Make sure the dentist understands your fear. This will help him adjust the way he communicates with you. He can also pace the dental procedures according to your comfort level.

Set a plan for your procedure

Let you and your dentist plan for a more relaxed dental experience. You can talk about when is the best time to do the procedure. Include in your discussion the past experiences that did not work for you and what are those that worked best for you. You can also talk about the fees.

Ask for medical help

Sometimes your fear may need more than personal techniques. You need to make use of medical help to relieve your pain and fear. Dentists will apply mild sedatives or even local anesthesia to calm their patients. Some even use nitrous oxide or laughing gas. Sedatives are better to use than anesthesia. You can still communicate with the dentist although you might feel a little drowsy once you take this in. Sedatives come in oral or intravenous doses. Local anesthesia will make you fall asleep during the dental procedures.

Even if you suffer from dental phobia, this should not hinder you from getting the dental care that your teeth needs. Learn to overcome your fear to become healthier and more hygienic.

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