Odontophobia, or dental phobia, is a common fear that many people experience. So common, in fact, that it affects an average of approximately nine to fifteen percent of Americans. However, avoiding the dentist because of fear can have serious consequences. If you are a part of this group and fear dental visits, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate this fear.
Acknowledge Your Fear:
The first thing you will need to do is actually admit to yourself that you do, in fact, fear the dentist. For some, this may be an easy admission. Others may have to come to terms with the fact that fear is the real reason they keep putting off dental visits and making excuses. Once you can admit that you fear the dentist, you can start to look for solutions.
Find a Good Dentist:
Part of the solution to easing your fear is finding a good dentist. You will want to find a dentist who you feel comfortable with and who will take the time to explain things thoroughly and go slow during procedures. It is also important to consider their personality and find someone who has a personality compatible with your own. Before even scheduling a dental appointment, schedule a consultation to meet with the dentist to see if they would be a good match. This is a great way to find a good dentist while also easing yourself slowly into the dentist’s office.
Explain Your Fears to Your Dentist:
Once you’ve found a dentist that you feel comfortable with, it is important to share your fears about dentistry with them. Dentists realize that many people suffer from dental phobia, and if they know this ahead of time, they can help make your treatments less stressful. There are many options today for making dental treatments easier on patients, and your dentist can discuss these options for you to help you make the best decision for your needs.
Remember That You Are in Control:
Ultimately, you have the final word regarding your dental care. If you have questions, you are entitled to ask them. If you don’t understand something, you are entitled to get clarification. If you are not comfortable with a treatment option, you can ask for alternatives. Many people fear the dentist because they fear losing control, however a good dentist will always respect your right to control your dental care.
Familiarize Yourself With the Dental Tools:
Another common source of anxiety for many are the dental tools. Some of the dentist’s tools may look absolutely terrifying, but when you understand their function and how they are used, you will quickly realize that these tools are harmless. Even the tools that may be a bit more invasive are only used with proper numbing to ensure the patient will not feel anything.
Consider Dental Sedation:
Finally, as a last resort you can consider dental sedation. Dental sedation has various levels of sedation for you to choose from and will help you to relax during dental appointments or procedures. Most sedation will cause you not to remember the procedure and will prevent you from feeling extra anxiety. You will want to speak with your dentist about dental sedation to ensure that it is the right option for you.