We’ve all heard jokes about how scary it is to go to the dentist. But being scared of the dentist is no laughing matter. For many people, the idea of having to go for a checkup, let alone a dental procedure, can send shivers down their spine.
Dental phobia is a very real problem, and it affects more people than you might imagine. Alongside the fear, though, is the fact that while you’re avoiding dental treatment, your teeth and overall health are at risk.
Overcoming a phobia is never easy. If you fear the dentist, the good news is that with the right support, it is possible to put those worries behind you.
Here are ten great tips to help you overcome your fear of the dentist and take your first steps toward getting essential treatment and improving your oral health.
1. Get Help From the Right Dentist
Dentists are people. And, like in every walk of life, some people are more empathetic and understanding than others. Although the stereotype of the uncaring dentist that willfully inflicts pain is wildly inaccurate, you will find that some dentists have more patience than others, and some can just say the right thing to put you at ease.
Dr KP is a certified Dental Phobia dentist. This means that he’s recognised for his ability to treat anxious or phobic patients with care and compassion. Along with the other dentists on the Love Teeth team, Dr KP has a great understanding of the causes of dental phobia. This insight helps him offer better support and flexibility during treatment.
2. Identify What Frightens You
Your dental phobia may stem from an incident that happened in your past, it might come from a negative childhood experience while in the dentist’s chair, or you may have learned your fear from a family member.
Identify what specifically scares you about going to the dentist. Is it the smell, the sounds, or the feeling like you’re not in control? You might have anxieties about potential pain. Knowing what you’re nervous about can help you address the problem.
3. Book Appointments for When the Clinic Is Quiet
A busy dentist’s surgery is the last place you want to be when you’re feeling anxious. Although we aim to create a relaxing environment throughout the practice, having lots of people around you can make you feel worse.
Our friendly team can help you find the right appointment for you. Mention that you’re nervous or have a dental phobia when you book, and they’ll do what they can to help.
4. Learn More About Any Procedures You Need
If you need a dental procedure, it’s likely that your oral health may deteriorate if you avoid having it. Understanding what you can expect from the treatment can help you mentally prepare yourself.
Often, a procedure is nowhere near as bad as you’d imagine. Additionally, modern anaesthetics and the latest techniques and equipment make many procedures much easier for you, the patient.
5. Don’t Go To Your Appointment Alone
When you go to your appointment, it’s good to get some moral support. You don’t have to go alone.
Take a partner, friend, or family member with you that you trust. Not only will they keep you company in the waiting room, but if you’re anxious during your appointment, knowing they’re there can help ease feelings of panic.
6. Take Music and Headphones
Often, the sounds heard in dental clinics can add to your feelings of worry. While modern dental equipment is generally quiet, when you’re anxious, these sounds can seem amplified.
Take something with you that you can listen to your favourite music or podcasts on. If you have noise-cancelling headphones, these can help too. Noise-cancelling headphones work by playing inaudible sounds that counteract lots of the other noises around you.
Listening to something you enjoy can also distract you from everything that’s going on.
7. Ground Yourself
Feelings of fear and worry can worsen; however, grounding techniques can bring you into the moment and help you deal with negative emotions.
To help you refocus and reduce your anxiety, you could turn your attention to other parts of your body. Slowly scanning through your body and asking yourself how each part feels can help distract you from the treatment.
You can also ground yourself by identifying details of the room around you. If you can see out of a window, taking note of everything going on can also help you.
8. Learn Deep Breathing
When we’re anxious, our breathing becomes shallow and fast. Our bodies are in a natural state of fight or flight, and our blood flow naturally prioritises our muscles over our brains. Rational thinking doesn’t come naturally when we’re anxious, but our bodies are poised to react to situations that frighten us by running away or fighting.
Breathing deeply switches our nervous system back. By taking in more oxygen, our brains become more engaged, and our stress levels drop.
You can achieve this yourself by breathing in slowly over a period of four to five seconds, holding your breath for a couple of seconds, and then slowly breathing out over four to five seconds. Repeat this slow breathing for a few minutes, and you’ll start to feel calmer.
9. Take It Slow
If you feel a sense of panic growing while you’re in the clinic, let us know. Before your treatment, we can discuss a hand signal you’ll use to let us know that you need a break.
If we know you’re feeling especially anxious, we can pause what we’re doing while you take deep breaths.
10. Be Kind To Yourself
Dental phobia isn’t something you should feel ashamed of. While you may feel frustrated with yourself, it’s important to practice kindness to yourself and use positive self-talk. You can overcome your fears, and it’s not your fault you feel this way.
Overcome Dental Phobia With Our Help
The first step towards overcoming dental phobia is to have a positive experience. At Love Teeth, we’re here to help you fight your fears and get the treatment you need.
With supportive dentists in Chessington, Cheam, Sutton, Stonecot, and Worcester Park, you can start saying goodbye to your anxiety.
Call our friendly team today to arrange your appointment.