Are you in need of extensive dental treatment but fear of the dentist keeps you from it? Believe it or not, it is more common than you think. Having some fear or anxiety at the prospect of getting dental work is common. In fact, it is rare to find someone completely at ease with the idea. Dental phobia, however, is paralyzing and can stem from various factors, including past negative experiences, fear of pain, or the feeling of loss of control. It will often be the cause of severe teeth deterioration, and, ironically, the cause for extensive treatments. Coping with fear of the dentist involves both psychological and practical strategies. Here are some tips that may help:
1. Communicate with your dentist:
It is important to find a dentist who is willing to work with your situation. He or she must be understanding, caring and patient. You can find out if this is the case before your visit to the dentist with other patients’ references, a call previous to your appointment, and even from the attention provided at the front desk. Be open and share your fears and concerns with your dentist. A good dentist will be understanding and can work with you to make the experience more comfortable. You can also establish a signal to let the dentist know if you need a break or are feeling uncomfortable during the procedure.
2. Get to know the dental office
Start with simple, non-invasive procedures such as a check-up, an exam, or x-rays before moving on to more complex treatments. This can help build trust and gradually reduce anxiety by making the environment more familiar.
3. Bring a support person:
Ask if a friend or family member can accompany you to the appointments. Having someone familiar by your side can provide emotional support and reassurance. If you are an anxious person, your dentist will sometimes allow them to be with you at all times during the appointment. This can also be helpful when there is a lot of information to digest or remember.
4. Relaxation techniques:
You can practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or visualization to help calm your nerves before and during the appointment. Consider bringing headphones and listening to soothing music or an audiobook during the procedure to distract yourself. Some patients also find aromatherapy or taking certain teas helpful. Find what works best for you.
5. Understand the procedures:
Remember that knowledge is power. Ask your dentist to explain the procedures in detail beforehand so you know what to expect during and after the procedure. Understanding the process may alleviate some of the fear of the unknown.
6. Use sedation options:
You can discuss sedation options with your dentist. There may be some restrictions in what a dentist may prescribe as to oral sedatives, but for major procedures like surgeries, implants, and extractions, you can coordinate to have IV sedation provided.
7. Regular dental visits:
Regular check-ups can help maintain oral health and prevent the need for more extensive treatments. Catching problems early can also reduce the likelihood of painful procedures.
8. Consider professional help:
If your fear is severe, consider seeking help from a psychologist or therapist who specializes in dental anxiety, as it may be linked to other areas in your life. In fact, it is known that a healthy smile has a direct impact on your mental health, so if your fear is preventing you from living your best life or having a healthy smile it may be a good idea to ask for help.
Remember, it’s essential to address dental anxiety to maintain good oral health. Start with small steps, and over time, you may find that your fear diminishes as you build positive experiences with dental care. At the Costa Rica Dental Team, most of our patients refer some kind of dental fear and end up overcoming it by the end of the dental treatment. For us, it is about giving each patient its due attention and creating a positive relationship between the patient and the dental provider. Since we are located outside of the United States, in Costa Rica, we are aware most patients are anxious, which is why we like to provide an altogether new and pleasant experience to our patients visiting us from overseas. Contact us now to find out how we do this!