Dental phobia, also known as dentophobia, is a common fear among many people, and it can prevent them from seeking the dental care they need. This fear can be so strong that some individuals would rather suffer from dental pain and discomfort than undergo treatment. However, avoiding dental visits is not advisable, and can lead to serious dental problems that can affect a person's overall health. In this blog post, we'll explore some strategies for dealing with dental phobias so that you can get the dental care you need.
Identify the cause of your dental phobia
The first step in dealing with dental phobias is to identify the cause of your fear. It could be the sound of the dental drill, the sight of the instruments, the fear of needles, or the fear of pain. Once you know the cause of your phobia, you can work with your dentist to come up with a plan to address it. Talking to your dentist about your fears can also help ease your anxiety, get reassured about the safety of the procedures, and find ways to work around the obstacles that are getting in the way of you receiving the care you need.
Find a dentist who understands dental phobias
Not all dentists are trained to work with patients who have dental phobias. It is essential to look for a dentist who has plenty of patience and is well versed in treating patients with dental anxiety. These dentists are trained to help patients feel comfortable and relaxed during their appointments. They may use behavior management techniques, relaxation techniques, nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or sedation dentistry to help their patients. A Biomimetic dentist, someone who specializes in the most conservative form of dentistry available, may be best suited to care for someone with dental phobias because they can explain that the techniques that they utilize serve to avoid invasive dental procedures such as root canals, crowns and extractions. Saving all good tooth structure and minimizing the number of dental visits will appeal to everyone, especially those who are anxious to begin with.
Use relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and visualization can help you stay calm and relaxed during your dental appointments. Before your appointment, take a few minutes to practice these techniques to help reduce your anxiety. You can also try listening to calming music or using aromatherapy to help you relax. In our office we have waterfalls in each room and offer wireless headphones for whichever type of music, show or movie our patient would like to watch.
Ask about sedation options
For patients with severe dental phobias, sedation options such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or oral sedation may be available. Talk to your dentist about these options to see if they are right for you. Sedation dentistry can help patients relax during dental procedures and allow them to get the necessary treatment without experiencing the anticipated pain or discomfort.
Bring a friend or family member
Having a trusted friend or family member accompany you to your appointment can help ease your anxiety. They can provide emotional support and distraction during the appointment. They can also help you get to the dental office if you feel anxious about traveling alone.
Start with small steps
If you have severe dental phobias, it may be helpful to start with small steps. For example, you could start by just visiting the dentist's office without having any work done. This can help you get used to the environment and the staff. Gradually work your way up to having a cleaning or other dental procedure. It is essential to go at your pace and not rush things.
Reward yourself after your dental appointments. Treat yourself to something you enjoy, such as a favorite meal or activity. This will help create positive associations with dental visits and make it easier to manage your dental phobia in the future. Positive reinforcement can help motivate you to continue seeking dental care.
In conclusion, dental phobias can be a significant barrier to getting the dental care you need. However, by identifying the cause of your fear, finding a dentist who understands dental phobias, using relaxation techniques, asking about sedation options, bringing a friend or family member, starting with small steps, and rewarding yourself, you can manage your anxiety and get the dental care you need. Don't let dental phobias prevent you from having a healthy smile! With the right tools and support, you can overcome your fear and receive the dental care you need to maintain optimal oral health.