It’s estimated that 9% to 15% of Americans avoid going to the dentist because they feel uncomfortable, scared, or afraid of attending an appointment. This means you’re not alone. There are millions of Americans who just can’t bring themselves to face the dentist. Unfortunately, your teeth are a very important part of your body, and sometimes it’s necessary to go to the dentist, even if you’re frightened. So how do you overcome your fears?
First, it’s important to understand where your fear comes from:
For most, the fear of the dentist has less to do with the procedures than it does the lack of control. It’s an unnatural position to have someone hovering over you, holding your mouth open so you can’t talk, and this is what causes fear for many. At the dentist, you have little control over what is going on and, additionally, you can’t see what the dentist is doing. The natural human reaction to this lack of control is to get out. It’s a simple fight-or-flight reaction that can make going to the dentist very difficult for some.
So, how can you get around your fear?
- The best thing you can do is talk to your dentist. Let them know about your fears, and tell them how you feel about coming into the office. It’s also a good idea to go into the dentistry to meet your dentist and staff before you even schedule an appointment. Once you get to know the professionals, it may just put your mind more at ease.
- Ask your dentist to explain what they are doing in the procedure, step-by-step, both before the procedure, and during. This will give you more information about what exactly is going on, and will make you feel more in control of the situation.
- Ask your dentist if you can try a signal that lets him/her know you need a break. If your dentist allows you to stop at any time, and you know you can leave whenever you want, you’ll feel much more in control.
- Make sure you have the right dentist. If you inform your dentist about your fears and they brush off your concerns, or don’t acknowledge them at all, it’s time for a new dentist. At this point, they’re doing you more harm than good, and there are plenty of other dentists you can go to who are willing to work with you to understand your fears instead.
- Listen to soothing music. If you bring your own music with you, it’s a great way to distract your mind from thinking about your dental appointment. Choose an album that you haven’t listened to much, so you’ll be more focused on the music than your upcoming appointment.
- Schedule your appointment first thing. This way, you’ll be getting to the dentist before any stresses of the day build up. You won’t be stressed from any at-work complications, and your mind won’t have time to dread the appointment. You’ll get in and get it out of the way.
- Bring someone for moral support. If you have trouble going to the dentist, you might consider bringing a friend or loved one to the appointment with you for moral support. Just having someone there that you know and trust can make you feel much more at ease.
- Start with something simple. If you’re working on getting over your fear of the dentist, start with simple painless appointments before working your way up to bigger things. Schedule a cleaning, and once you can get through that, then schedule that other procedure that seemed more frightening, like a root canal or wisdom tooth extraction.
- Breathe. Just taking deep breaths and trying to relax can do wonders. If you’re nervous waiting for your appointment, try taking deep breaths to calm yourself down before you go into the exam room.
- Visit the dentist regularly. Though this might seem counter-productive, the more you visit the dentist regularly for cleanings and routine procedures, the better you’ll avoid those long procedures that may cause more anxiety. If your teeth are in top shape, and properly taken care of, you’ll have less reason to go to the dentist for more frightening reasons like toothaches, root canals and tooth extractions.
- Other stress-relievers. Many dentists offer anti-anxiety medications and sedation for extremely nervous patients. If this is you, talk to your dentist about your fears and anxieties, and see what methods they might recommend for you.
If you’re experiencing anxiety related to attending your dentist appointment, call the Mogren Dental team at (231) 737-5500. Our ultimate goal is to provide our patients with comfortable, stress-free dental services. We’re happy to talk with you and answer any questions you may have. Additionally, you can ask the dentist a question or schedule your own appointment online today!