Maintaining oral health is an absolute necessity. It is an important aspect of our overall wellness. Even if you brush, floss, and take in plenty of calcium, it is still very important to see a dentist every once in a while in order to make sure that your teeth and mouth are completely healthy.
Unfortunately for some of us, choosing to go see a dentist is not all that simple. Many people genuinely fear dentists and dental environments. Just the thought of going to the dentist can provoke serious anxiety.
The technical term for the fear of dentists is “dentophobia,” and many people deal with it. Some have it as children and eventually grow out of it. Yet others aren’t necessarily so lucky. Seeing the dentist is an absolutely essential activity when it comes to health maintenance. It simply can’t be avoided forever. So, if this is an issue that you have been battling, keep on reading to find out how to get rid of your fear of dentists.
1. Find the right dentist for you.
Perhaps your fear of dentists has developed simply due to the fact that you have had bad experiences with dentists you’ve seen in the past. This means that they were not the right dentist for you. In this day in age, you can do some pretty extensive research into the dentists in your area.
Many of them are likely to have informative websites, or even some helpful reviews written by real patients. Maybe there is a review from someone who also had a fear of dentists, but were able to deal with it at that particular dental office.
Simply search “dentists in (your area)” and explore your options. Pick out a few dentists whose values and practices stand out to you. Also, be sure to pay attention to their reviews. If others have had a good experience with this dentist, this is a very positive sign. It will also help you to ask around for recommendations from people that you trust.
After picking out your top contenders, call in and ask if it is possible to schedule an appointment with the dentist just for the sake of meeting and explaining your situation to them. You may have to pay for this appointment, but it is a very important step towards choosing the right professional. When talking to the dentist, be completely honest with them. If they are sympathetic and patient with you, they are likely a very good choice.
2. Mental preparation and proper distraction.
Choosing the right dentist for you is a crucial first step, but actually facing your dentist appointment is the true battle. It is important for you to go in to this day completely prepared.
You may choose to bring a family member or friend with you for extra support. Select someone you trust, and ask them ahead of time if they would be willing to join you. Having someone else there can be a great source of strength as well as a distraction from what you makes you afraid.
While you are waiting for your appointment to arrive, anxiety can build up rather quickly. Thinking too hard about what’s to come can be crippling. This is why it’s very important to distract yourself with some form of activity. Bring along a book or a game of sorts. Distraction will save your mind a world of worry.
Relaxation techniques are a great way to both calm your tense body and mind. Before going in to your appointment, try closing your eyes, taking a few deep breaths and visualizing a comforting environment in your mind. Learning how to take control of your stress with such techniques will help you to face your fear.
3. Getting though it.
When the time comes for you to sit in that dentist chair, it is important to stay focused on getting through the checkup or procedure.
Bring along a stress ball, and squeeze it tight when you get nervous or uncomfortable.
Just as you did in the waiting room, it is very important to distract yourself from what is really happening. Focusing too much on reality might be too much for you to handle at first.
Try your best to stay calm, and take your mind to another place. Close your eyes, and imagine yourself in your favourite vacation spot.
If you find yourself overthinking things, remind yourself that dental procedures are perfectly harmless and simple. This will put your mind at ease. Also, remind yourself why you are there in the first place. You are there to take care of your health. You are a strong person for facing your fears. You will become stronger from this experience. These motivating words will help you to get rid of your fear of dentists once and for all.
4. Reward yourself!
Getting through this appointment was not at all easy for you, and you deserve to do something fun! Make plans to do something that you enjoy shortly after your appointment. Perhaps you can go out for ice cream, or watch your favourite movie. Pay attention to the instructions of your dentist for after the appointment (no eating for an hour, take a day off for rest, do not operate any kind of machinery) and make your plans accordingly.
Having something to look forward to helps to motivate your mind to persevere through a difficult task. Positive reinforcement teaches anyone that a good behaviour results in good outcomes.
You did it, so celebrate!
Getting rid of your fear of dentists will be a process. However, getting through that first appointment with little to no bumps along the road is a huge step toward shaking off this fear. After finding the right dentist for you, the key is to persevere through your visit. In order to do so, you must be prepared, know how to relax, and know some helpful distraction techniques. Having something to look forward to afterward also won’t hurt! Trust that you will feel great knowing that you faced your fear. It will get easier and easier with each visit. Good luck on finally ridding of your fear of dentists!