Does the mere thought of visiting your local dentist bring you out in a cold sweat? Do you find yourself putting up with toothache rather than seeking help? If the answer is yes then you may well have a phobia about visiting your dentist, something that is much more common than you might imagine. It’s thought between 5% and 10% of the population put off visiting the dentist, and of this percentage around 20% will avoid visiting their dental surgery completely unless they are in terrible pain.
Fear visiting the dentist is often a learned behaviour, and it might result from having had a bad experience in the dental chair early on in life, or it can even be as a result of seeing parents or siblings being afraid of visiting the dentist. It is often almost subconscious, and is a reaction that just cannot easily be controlled even though you know it doesn’t necessarily make sense.
It is easy to see why it develops, as being in the dental chair can make people feel quite vulnerable, but dental treatment doesn’t have to be this way, and you’ll probably find dentists are much more sympathetic than you might think. Overcoming your dental fears is all about replacing negative feelings and experiences with more positive ones.
Choose Your Dentist Carefully
Nowadays many dentists are much more sympathetic towards nervous patients, and some go out of their way to create a more welcoming and non-threatening atmosphere. Many understand that the sights, sounds and smells in a dental surgery can be quite scary, and have done their best to remove these cues. Some have even received special training to help them deal with nervous patients. If you do have fears over visiting the dentist then it’s well worth trying to find a sympathetic surgery, and talking to the staff about your concerns.
Once they know you find dentists appointments an ordeal, they can work with you to help resolve the situation. There are lots of things that can be done to help make you feel more comfortable, and every positive experience you have at your local surgery will make the next visit a little easier. Some dentists have been trained in sedation dentistry to help make patients feel more relaxed and comfortable during treatments. Sedation can be very light, or more extensive if required.
One of the things people often find very difficult to deal with it the complete lack of control they feel while being treated. This is quite easy to resolve, as your dentist can give you a visual cue, such as raising your hand, to use every time you would like treatment to stop. The knowledge that you have the power to stop treatment at any stage can be very comforting. You can also prearrange regular breaks during treatment, and it is highly likely that your dentist will frequently ask you if you are okay to continue or if you’d like to stop for a bit.
Other Things Which May help
Other things which some people may find useful include taking an MP3 player to listen to music during treatment, or practising a few simple relaxation techniques before an appointment. You may also want to take a relative or close friend with you for support, so long as they don’t have any dental fears themselves. If you do find it very difficult to overcome dental fear then it may be worth looking at other methods of treatment such as hypnosis, or NLP.
Once you have received essential dental treatment, and have regained your oral health then hopefully you’ll find visiting the dentist at regular intervals is much easier to cope with. You should have far fewer fears of needing any extensive treatment, and are most likely just to require a quick check-up and professional cleaning.