How to Cope With Dental Fear

How to Cope With Dental Fear

Having fear of something is completely normal. Some people are afraid of spiders, snakes, rodents, or other animals. Others are afraid of heights, closed-in spaces, or, yes, the dentist. Whether due to a negative experience in the past or simply feeling you don’t have control in the dentist’s chair, dental fear is a common issue. Up to 15 percent of people have this phobia.

Don’t Avoid Your Dentist

Although you may be able to avoid heights, spiders, or other fears for most of your life, you should not avoid the dentist. Dental health is important to your entire body’s well-being, and your dentist can help you avoid cavities, correct dental health problems, prevent gum disease, and of course, give you the most beautiful smile possible. Not to mention, your dentist can spot other health problems during a checkup such as diabetes, heart disease, and oral cancer.

We understand many people have dental fear, and we are highly experienced in helping you feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible. Here are some tips to help you before you make your next appointment:

  • Choose a dentist who has a caring, compassionate staff that is willing to work with you. The last thing you need when you’re nervous or anxious is someone who is not understanding of your feelings. The whole team should be ready to help you feel as comfortable as possible from the moment you walk in the door. Ask about their experience with dental fear, including the reception staff, hygienists, and dentist.

  • Be open about your fears. If you’re even just a little nervous, tell the dental staff about it right away. If they know you are dealing with this, they will be better able to help you. Don’t try to keep it a secret or “snap out of it.” Chances are, you’ll end up feeling worse. Dental fear is nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about.

  • Bring a trusted friend or family member with you to the appointment. Sometimes having a special person with you can make a world of difference. Bring someone who can help you feel more calm and relaxed. They can offer you words of encouragement or simply be with you during your appointment as a friendly and familiar face.

  • Bring headphones to listen to relaxing music or guided imagery. If you have favorite relaxation music or meditation on your mobile device, consider bringing it along. Immersing yourself in something that is relaxing can be very helpful.

  • Get your questions answered. If you feel like you have some control over the exam, you may be better able to cope with fear. For instance, ask the dentist if he or she will stop if you raise your hand or give an agreed upon signal. Ask about getting a break when you need one during your cleaning. And be sure you know what the dentist or hygienist is doing so you know what to expect.

Dr. Flanagan offers patience and compassion for patients dealing with dental fear and anxiety.  If you’ve been avoiding that dental appointment, we want to help. Call us today to find out more about what we do, with no pressure or obligation. You’ll be one step closer to a healthy smile!

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