How to Overcome Fear of the Dentist
We get it. Going to the dentist can be nerve-racking for some people. And “some people” does not just refer to kids. Many adults are nervous about visiting the dentist too. And that’s ok. There are ways to work through that. Here are four ideas we recommend that you try.
Smiling woman at dentist
1. Don’t hide your fear from your dentist.
Your dentist cannot address the problem or make your experience easier if he does not know about your fears. Do certain procedures incite more anxiety in you than others? Does a lack of knowledge about dental work trigger your fears? These are things your dentist needs to know. You could schedule an appointment just to talk about your past experiences and what you’re concerned about. A caring dentist will take the appropriate amount of time to help you overcome your fear, even if it means slowing down your treatment.
2. Collect positive experiences.
Rather than swallowing hard and agreeing to a huge dental procedure during your next appointment in an attempt to “face your fears head-on,” maybe you should set smaller goals first. Yes, this may slow down the treatment process or result in more appointments than usual. But won’t that be worthwhile, if it helps you train yourself to actually relax in that dentist chair rather than sweating profusely through the whole visit, desperately wishing you were anywhere else but there? The more times you leave the dentist thinking, “Well, that wasn’t too bad; I can handle that,” the easier it will be to return for your next visit. Give yourself permission to conquer your fears little by little, if that’s what you need to do.
3. Communicate throughout the entire visit.
Laughingly admitting your nervousness at the beginning of the visit probably won’t be enough. There’s several things you can do to communicate your true feelings to your dental team the whole time you’re there.
Arrange a cue (waving your right hand, for example) for when you need them to stop. Make sure the dental team knows your signal before they begin working.
If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed, ask for a short break and explain how you feel.
Before they begin, ask them to explain each step of the procedure as they arrive there, as well as how it will affect you.
4. Distract yourself.
Bring your headphones and play your favorite playlist while you’re being treated. Or, even better, listen to a brand new playlist that’ll distract you more easily. If you’re into reading, listen to an audiobook by your favorite author. You could also request to be treated in an area with a TV that you can watch. The key is to keep your mind engaged in something other than wondering what the dentist is doing to your teeth and if it’s going to hurt. The more interesting the distraction is to you, the better!
We don’t want you to avoid coming to the dentist just because of anxiety. Instead, we want to help you work through that anxiety and get the treatment you need. To talk with one of us, contact us through our online form – it’s quick, simple, and doesn’t involve any needles.
We hope to hear from you soon. Your first anxiety-free visit may not be as far away as you think!