Does your heart race when you think about going to the dentist? Do you find yourself putting off making routine cleaning appointments? If so, you might have dental phobia. While many adults don’t enjoy going to the dentist, there is a small percentage who deal with actual dental phobia — a strong fear of going to the dentist. One problem that dental phobia causes is that its victims often postpone their dental appointments. By neglecting to go to the dentist for regular checkups, they run the risk of letting small problems turn into big ones; this means that if you don’t get small cavities filled, they’re more likely to turn into large cavities that require procedures like a root canal or a crown. These more invasive (and more expensive) procedures don’t make dental phobia any better. There are some steps you can take to ease your phobia and get through your twice-yearly checkups.
Talk to Your Dentist
If there’s one thing dentists have a lot of experience with (besides teeth), it’s nervous patients. You are not the first phobic patient your dentist will see and you will not be the last. Tell him or her how you feel so they know to explain what they’re doing as they go. You can also let the staff know; they will go out of their way to make you feel comfortable.
Sometimes just learning to distract yourself and relax can help. There are many types of relaxation techniques that you can use. One is listening to music. Bring along your earbuds and immerse yourself in the sounds of your favorite band while you have your teeth cleaned. Another is to use guided imagery. You can find examples on YouTube or on some podcasts.
Ask for Pharmaceutical Help
Some people are phobic to the point where they cannot sit through a dental cleaning without medication. If you are fearful enough that you can’t even fathom making a dental appointment and getting through it, ask for a sedative. You will have to have someone drive you to and from the appointment, but that might well be a sacrifice worth making if it will save you the stress of being unmedicated. It can also save your teeth if you wouldn’t go otherwise!
Don’t suffer with dental phobia; instead, find ways to manage your fear so you can get the dental care you need. Give us a call if you are struggling and we can help you.