Addressing Fear of the Dentist With Knowledge and Positive Thinking
Though few people find going to the dentist enjoyable, some people have such an intense fear of the dentist that they either don't go at all, or spend the days leading up to an appointment completely overtaken by fear. Dental fear and anxiety can have profound effects on daily living, causing people to lose sleep, self-medicate, and sabotage personal relationships. It can also wreak havoc on dental health if patients avoid going to the dentist and thus let little problems, like cavities, develop into bigger issues.
If you suffer from dental fear, the best solution is not to brace yourself and white-knuckle it through a dental appointment. Though this will ensure your teeth are cared for, it won't make seeking dental care easier in the future. Rather, you should address your fear through positive thinking and by arming yourself with knowledge about the procedures you're about to undergo. This way, you'll not only get the dental treatment you need, but you'll make things a whole lot easier on yourself when you have to seek dental care later on.
To practice positive thinking, first ask yourself why, exactly, you're afraid of going to the dentist. Many people are afraid to visit their dentist because they're embarrassed about the condition of their teeth. If this is the case, remind yourself that your dentist has likely seen much worse. Moreover, it is his or her job to fix ailing teeth. This is your chance to be rid of your embarrassing dental issues!
If you're afraid that the experience will be painful, know that it is absolutely one of your dentist's primary goals to ensure you experience as little pain as possible during the procedure. Remind yourself that if you don't have your dental problems taken care of now, they will just get much worse and be more painful. You're doing a good thing for your health and actually minimizing your pain in the long run by visiting the dentist now.
Are you afraid of injections? You can think positively about this part of the dental procedure by reminding yourself that the discomfort of an injection only lasts a few seconds and is preventing you from experiencing more profound discomfort throughout the procedure. Isn't it amazing that medications are available to numb the mouth, so you don't have to feel pain during drilling?
It can help to talk to a supportive loved one about your specific dentist-related fears. That person can help frame your fears in a positive light. If you simply cannot reduce the fear you experience regarding your upcoming dental procedure, there are a few more measures you can take:
- Visit a therapist. A professionally trained therapist can teach you strategies to reduce your fear of the dentist.
- Make some practice visits to the dental office. If you can bring yourself to do this, spending time in the dental office when you don't have a procedure coming up can ease your fears considerably.
Arming Yourself with Knowledge
A lot of times, patients' fear of the dentist stems from uncertainty. They're not sure what the dentist is doing in their mouth, and they are not quite sure why it is necessary or how it is helping them. By learning more about the procedures you're about to undergo in your dentist's office, you can ease your dental fear somewhat. You're less likely to be apprehensive if you know what the benefits of a procedure are and can focus on those benefits.
A good way to learn about your procedure is simply to ask your dentist. He or she should be happy to answer your questions and take some time to explain the procedure to you. If your dentist is not willing to do this, then consider finding another dentist who is. As a patient with dental fear, it's best for you to be working with a dentist is understanding and accommodating of your needs.
Another way to learn a bit more about your procedure is to talk to people you know who have had it done before. You'll often learn, through this method, that some of your misconceptions about dental procedures are not true. For instance, it's a common myth that root canal treatments are painful. Talk to someone who has had one, and you'll learn this is not the case.
Don't let fear of the dentist keep you from seeking treatment. By framing your fears in a positive light and learning as much as you can, you'll be able to approach your appointment with confidence.