So, you’ve got your next dentist appointment coming up, and you’re nervous about it. Or maybe you’re more than nervous, perhaps even scared. Or, you don’t have one coming up at all—because of your fear, you’ve put it off. Fear of the dentist is not uncommon. However, it’s not helping you stay healthy. Learning how to not be afraid of the dentist might be tough for you, but it’s something you and your dentist can accomplish together. Your mouth will thank you!
How to Not Be Afraid of the Dentist
Getting over your fear of the dentist is all about communication and understanding.
First, know that your fear is not unnatural and that you’re not the only one afraid! Someone hovering over you with unfamiliar tools and instruments taken in and out of your mouth—all while you can’t talk—is not the most comfortable situation for anyone! Some extent of dental fear occurs in around 75% of American adults, and around 5% to 10% experience dental phobia, meaning their fear prevents them from receiving any care at all.
But you should also understand that fear of the dentist can negatively affect your health. If you’re avoiding your twice-a-year dental appointments, you’re placing yourself at risk for a number of oral health problems—cavities, tooth decay, gum disease, and many others. Plus, these conditions often lead to problems beyond your mouth, so it is very important to attend your appointments.
So let’s work on overcoming that fear. The absolute best thing you can do to ease your anxiety is to be open about this with your dentist. Dental professionals get into dentistry because they love helping people, so they will want to help ease your fear! Here are a couple things you and your dentist can work on . . .
- If it will be your first time at a new office, ask for a meet-and-greet and/or a tour of the office before your appointment. This way, you’ll get to know the team and the environment before you even sit down in the chair. You’ll likely meet a group of positive, friendly professionals whose only goal is to give you the best care possible!
- Ask your dentist to explain the instruments and their purpose before using them. Dental tools aren’t nearly as frightening when you understand exactly what they do and why they’re necessary!
- Similarly, ask that your dentist explain the steps of the procedures to you before he or she performs them. It’s unsettling to not be aware of what’s going on, so this should ease you.
- With your dentist, work out a stopping signal. Many people feel they are not in control at their dental visit because they can’t comfortably talk, causing a lot of anxiety. A stopping signal—such as raising your left hand, giving a thumbs-down gesture, etc.—allows you to have input in a procedure without moving your mouth and risking discomfort or pain.
With these tips, you and your dentist can work on overcoming your dental fear together. And if you’re in the market for a new team of cheerful, helpful professionals, give Wilkinson Dental a call today!