Is “fear of the dentist” in your top three? If so, you are among the nearly 20% of all Americans who experience enough anxiety about seeing a dentist that they will go only when absolutely necessary.
The reason for this fear is varied, but can often be attributed to a fear of needles and pain, sensitivity to personal space, or a past bad experience.
If you are one of these people, it may help you to know there are things you can do to manage your fear of the dentist and help you feel more in control of your dental health and overall wellness.
Find the right Dentist – One of the most important things you can do to help manage your fear is to find the right dentist. The right dentist will listen to your concerns, will help you feel more at ease and will work with you to increase your comfort.
Schedule a free consult before your first appointment – Many dental practices; as we do here at Dentistry by Design, will offer a free consult prior to the first exam. This will give you the opportunity to meet the dentist, hygienist and receptionist. Let them know about your fears beforehand. When discussing, be as specific as you can about the reason for your fear. Just talking about it may help you and again, a good dentist will respect your feelings, listen to your concerns and help put you at ease.
Bring a friend – You know the song, “I get by with a little help from my friends” (Lennon/McCartney). This is true of dental visits too. Just make sure you bring a friend who is comfortable with seeing the dentist and can help you relax.
Schedule your appointment at the right time – For some the best time may be first thing in the morning so as to avoid spending the day feeling anxious. For others it may be at a time when you are not worried about other obligations, such as getting to work on time or picking up the kids from school. Find the time that is right for you and schedule accordingly.
Get Information – If you are the type who likes to know what is happening step by step ask the hygienist and dentist to communicate each next step throughout the exam so there are no surprises.
Agree on a signal – Before the exam begins agree on a signal, such as a raised hand, to indicate when you are feeling discomfort or need a break.
Wear headsets – If it’s the sounds that bother you, listening to relaxing music will help drown out the noise and will help put you at ease.
Don’t be afraid to breakup – With your dentist that is. If you feel that your dentist is not listening, does not respect your concerns and is not making the effort to help put you at ease find a different dentist. Ask friends and family for a trusted referral.
Give Sedation Dentistry a try – If your fear of the dentist is more difficult to manage you may want to consider oral sedation. Oral sedation allows patients to be comfortably, minimally sedated through an entire dental visit using just a small pill. It is safe and effective and can be used with most dental procedures and by most patients over 14 years of age. Click here to learn more.
Read what some of our patients have to say about oral sedation:
“Just the fact that I knew I was going to receive oral sedation prior to my appointment helped me feel more relaxed about it. It totally took away my fear. I would recommend it to anybody who has anxiety about seeing a dentist.” – Joanne Bosman
“Sedation Dentistry took away any and all anxiety I had about my dental procedure. I was totally pleased with the way everything went and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend sedation dentistry.” – Char Lundstedt