If going to the dentist is something you dread, you are definitely not alone. A routine trip to the dentist might include an array of uncomfortable experiences, from being blinded with an examination light to being poked and prodded with sharp metal instruments. A more involved procedure like getting a tooth pulled or a cavity filled can be substantially worse. Perhaps you have thought, while a dentist drills into one of your teeth, that certainly a suspected terrorist would crack under this kind of torture. Whether your apprehension about the dentist ranges from mild anxiety to full-blown phobia, it is dramatically important for the health of your teeth that you do not avoid routine check ups and needed procedures. McLoud Family Dentistry is committed to ensuring that their patients are as comfortable as possible while being treated. Here are four ways to help overcome a fear of the dentist.
Understand the Source of Your Fear
Fear of the dentist is not uncommon, but the cause of that fear varies. Taking some time to try to understand what it is you don’t like about the dentist is a big step to overcoming your fear. Here are some common sources of dentist-related anxiety:
- Pain or discomfort– Going to the dentist is not always a pain free-experience. Even something like flossing, if not done regularly, can cause some discomfort.
- Previous bad experiences at the dentist– People who have experienced pain at the dentist in the past are more likely to be anxious about future trips to the dentist.
- Loss of control– Fear and anxiety are often triggered by situations where someone feels like they have lost control. Lying still in a dentist’s chair can certainly be one of those situations.
- Embarrassment– Whether it is bad breath or crooked and discolored teeth, many people feel self-conscious about having someone being in close contact with their mouth.
Once you understand the source of your fear, you can talk with your dentist to make a plan to overcome those concerns.
Communicate with your Dentist
The professionals at McLoud Family Dentistry are trained to help patients feel as comfortable as possible. If there is a particular aspect of a routine check-up or needed procedure that makes you uncomfortable, speak up! Communicating your apprehension to those treating you will allow them to better care for you. It is possible that your treatment could be altered to make you more comfortable, or that “laughing gas” (nitrous oxide) could be employed to help reduce your anxiety. The key is letting your dentist or hygienist know, because otherwise they will not know to explore these alternative options with you.
Listen to Music
Listening to your favorite playlist or a good podcast can be a great way to reduce your anxiety while the dentist is working on you. Music helps many people calm down, and listening to something could also help a patient dissociate from what is going on in their mouth. The sound of the dentist’s drill is disconcerting to many, and your favorite song might go a long way to drowning it out. Be sure to ask the dentist or hygienist with you if having your headphones in is all right. Keep the volume low enough to be able to still hear them give you instructions.
Remember the Benefits
Going to the dentist might not always be the most enjoyable experience, but what are the alternatives? Going to the dentist twice a year is essential in avoiding serious dental problems. The dreaded cleaning every six months is a small price to pay to avoid cavities, toothaches, gingivitis, and tooth rot. Going to the dentist regularly prevents you from being forced to go to the dentist to receive treatment for significant and painful problems in the future.