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Tips To Overcome Fears Of The Dentist

A large portion of the population is afraid to go to the dentist. If you have a phobia about dental procedures or avoid the dentist because of your discomfort, you can learn to work past your fears through building positive experiences with your dentist and identifying your misgivings.

There can be a lot of reasons as to why people are scared of dentists. Here are some of the most common:

  • Pre-existing anxiety disorder
  • Bad experience as a child
  • Bad teeth
  • Lack of control
  • Substance abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • PTSD
  • Biological mechanisms (to protect mouth and nose air passages)

Read on to discover some tips to help you overcome your dental fears.

  1. Probably the most important thing to do is to discuss your fears with your dentist. This will allow him or her to address and manage your phobia. When you let your dentist know exactly why it’s so hard for you, you will likely feel more in control when you’re in the chair.
  2. Have your dentist go through the entire procedure before you start, and walk you through each step while it is being performed. When you know exactly what is being done, you can feel a bit less out of control.
  3. Consider taking some medication to help you relax. Your dentist can make a recommendation as to if anti-anxiety medication, sedation, or nitrous oxide will be best. Find a dentist who offers these options.
  4. Make sure you are comfortable with your dentist and able to develop a trusting relationship. Your dentist should be willing to work with you to get past your fears and put you at ease.
  5. Understand that your fear is normal. Don’t be embarrassed and certainly do not allow it to stop you from getting the proper dental care.
  6. Write out your fears. This can help you uncover your specific fears: is it the procedures you don’t like, or do you actually dislike your dentist? Sometimes all it takes is a change in dental health care providers.
  7. Determine the cause of your fears. Have specific experiences contributed? Sometimes acknowledging your fears might be just the thing to let you overcome them.
  8. Understand that dental procedures have changed a lot in the last several years. There aren’t any huge anesthetic needles anymore, and even the drills have improved. There are lots of new methods for treating cavities. Lots of dentists are also choosing to make their offices more inviting.
  9. Ask your family and friends who they use for a dentist. They won’t recommend someone with whom they don’t feel comfortable. Go online and seek out reviews of some of your options for a new dentist.
  10. Schedule a consultation with candidates. Meet with each one and talk about your fears and health. This can help you feel more comfortable with a certain person. Ask questions, and take your list of fears with you. Make sure the dentist takes you seriously. Don’t take on anyone who ignores your misgivings or brushes off your concerns. You want someone who is sympathetic and gentle.
  11. Set up a series of visits to ease into procedures gradually. Start with easy procedures first, like a cleaning, and move on to more serious procedures as you feel more comfortable.
  12. If you start to feel uncomfortable during a procedure, ask your dentist to stop until you can calm down.
  13. Set up appointments where you won’t have to have a long wait before you go into the exam room. The first appointment in the morning is always a good choice. You also don’t have to be anxious all day if you get the appointment over and done with first thing.
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