A trip to the dentist can be a stressful, or even frightening, experience for some people. Dental anxiety can stem from various reasons; a traumatic experience to the dentist in the past or a psychological condition that triggers a fear response are just some examples of why people dread going to the dentist.
This type of fear isn’t uncommon either. A professor from the University of Oslo’s Section for Paediatric Dentistry and Behavioural Science stated that nearly 20 per cent of the population of Norway has some degree of fear when going to the dentist. As a result, many people tend to put off going to the dentist because of this kind of mindset.
Fortunately, there are many ways to help overcome this fear. Here are just some simple tips that you can use to achieve this:
Set up an appointment with your dentist beforehand. Getting to know your dentist before the actual procedure can help alleviate any anxiety you may have about it. During this meeting, you can freely discuss everything there is about your upcoming visit – the procedure, your fears and the tools that the dentist will be using. On the other hand, this can also be an opportunity to simply have a chat with your dentist and just get to know one another better. What’s important here is that you’re able to establish a level of trust and rapport, so that you won’t have any apprehensions once the procedure starts.
Bring someone with you. Having someone go with you to the dentist is a good way to help stay calm during your appointment. A family member or a close friend who can help walk you through the experience and understand your fears can be quite reassuring. And, if the dentist allows it, you can even have that person stay with you in the room while the dentist is working on you. Just knowing that you have someone close by for support can make a big difference.
Wear noise-cancelling headphones. Many people find the noise of dentist tools really disconcerting. Once the sound of the drill starts, it’s hard to ignore, especially if it triggers a fear response from you. Good quality headphones can help block out the sounds and make everything more bearable.
Request for an anaesthetic if you can’t handle the pain. The dentist can offer various options to manage any pain that you may have during your visit. Topical anaesthetics, laser drills or electrical nerve blocks are just some of the possible solutions that can be used during a procedure. Be sure to discuss these options with your dentist, so you can be more at ease once it begins.
Make sure you’re sitting comfortably in the chair. As simple as this sounds, many people’s anxiety is actually intensified when they realize that they’re sitting in an awkward position. Whether you prefer to lie on your back, sit halfway back or totally upright, resting in a comfortable position can help make the experience better. Don’t be shy about asking your dentist which sitting position can best help you feel at ease. Some dentists will even offer you a pillow to help cushion your back from any aches that can pop up during a long procedure.
Ultimately, the most important thing that can help ease your fears is to find a dentist that you trust. Allowing someone to work on your teeth can be considered a very personal experience. Having someone that you can trust for your dentist is a great way to come out of this experience with a bigger and better smile in the end.