One out of four dreads a visit to the dentist, and being afraid of the dentist means different things to different people.
The good news is that there are ways to overcome your fear. More and more dentists understand their patients’ fears. With a combination of kindness and gentleness they can do a lot to make dental treatment fear-free.
"Most people who are scared of the dentist have bad memories from childhood of the smells and sounds of the surgery," says Karen Coates, a dental adviser at the British Dental Health Foundation.
By confronting fears — in a safe manner — a person can suppress the fear-triggering memory or stimulus also known as ‘exposure therapy’, this practice can help cure phobias and so is your dental fear!
"Modern dental surgeries are much friendlier environments, with flowers in the waiting room, art on the walls, a pleasant reception area and polite staff. It’s altogether a gentler experience. Of course, you’ll still have the smells and sounds of the dental surgery but these are less noticeable than they used to be with instruments hidden from sight and background music playing. Even drills aren’t as noisy as they used to be," she adds.
8 Tips To Ease Dental Fear
- Find an understanding dentist. Ask friends and family if they can recommend one or look for someone who advertises themselves as experts with anxious patients.
- Once you've found someone you think may be suitable, visit the surgery to have a look around, meet the receptionist and dentist and see the environment. Tell the dentist that you're anxious so they know beforehand.
- Pick an appointment time early in the morning so you have less time to dwell on it.
- The first appointment will simply be a check-up so don’t worry that you’ll be launched into having a filling, the drill or a needle. See this first visit as your chance to get to know the dentist.
- Take a friend with you to your appointment. The dentist won’t mind if they accompany you throughout the check-up or treatment.
- Agree a sign with the dentist to signal that you need a break and want them to stop. It can be as simple as pointing your finger, and will help you feel more in control.
- If you think it will help, start gradually with a clean and polish then work up to more extensive treatment once you’ve built up trust and rapport with your dentist.
- Bring your favorite music to listen to during your visit. It will help you relax.
Ultimately, the best antidote to fear is repeatedly confronting it.
By confronting fears— in a safe manner— a person can suppress the fear-triggering memory or stimulus also known as ‘exposure therapy’, this practice can help cure phobias and so is your dental fear!
So fear your dentist no more and have a pleasant oral care!