5 Tips to Stop Your Fear of the Dentist
Fear of the dentist is often a result of previous experiences and can often be traced back to childhood. Perhaps in the past, a drill shot out or a molar broke off during removal. You can be very frightened by this, which can even lead to dental phobia. In other cases, the fear is “copied” from the parents or from highly exaggerated “horror stories” at school. In practice, the fear often focuses on (the sound of) the drill. Other people fear the pain and constantly think that a nerve, lip, or tongue is going to be pierced. But it could also be that a previous dentist behaved in a clumsy or authoritarian way, undermining your sense of control.
Below I will share 5 tips with you. So that your fear disappears step-by-step. I can hopefully reassure you, because the anxiety symptoms in most dental practices are diminishing daily.
Tips to prevent fear of the dentist
The dental practice teaches that some dentists can handle anxious patients better than others. Fortunately, you choose a dentist yourself. But what can you do as a patient to reduce anxiety at the dentist? View all 5 tips below.
1. Know what to expect at the dentist
If your dentist has not yet prepared you with information for your treatment, ask yourself how long the treatment will take and what exactly the dentist will do. Clear information in advance is generally calming. For example, a dentist can help you by using the X-rays to show where the inflammation is located in the root canal and provide further explanation.
The dentist can also involve you more in the treatment, by having you hold a mirror, so that you can look at the problem and the result of the teeth.
2. Control the situation
It is nice to discuss with the dentist to stop treatment at a signal from you. For example, that you raise your hand as soon as you feel restless or unwell or in pain. With such a conversation you get more control over the situation.
3. Breathe consciously and calmly
Breathing calmly helps in any situation. You can practice this at home. Put on something comfortable and lie down. Place your hands on your stomach and breathe in and out slowly and consciously. Feel your abdominal wall moving up and down regularly. Breathe in and out through your nose as much as possible. You use three seconds to inhale and six seconds to exhale. This takes some practice, but it helps if you sit in the treatment chair to breathe calmly and against the fear of the dentist.
4. Change your thinking about the dental treatment
When you are afraid, you think differently than usual. You often fall back in thoughts at such moments, such as: I am just a scaredy! Such a thought puts you emotionally unbalanced and that does not help.
The intention is that you convert an unreasonable thought that upsets you into a reasonable alternative, such as: “I am sitting here in the dental chair because I want to keep my teeth healthy and prevent complaints.” Thoughts or statements in which you affirm yourself positively also help. Regularly say to yourself, “I can handle this situation.”
Realize that it is not the situation that makes things difficult for you, but the way you think about that situation or circumstances.
5. Distraction works
Music that you can listen to or a puzzle to distract you. Listen to your favorite music and try to enjoy it. This distraction technique even helps you with long-term root canal treatment at your dentist. Of course you can do this better if you practice it a few times beforehand.
What else can you do?
If you, despite applying the above tips, you postpone your visit to the dentist for longer, your teeth will continue to deteriorate. Bad teeth do not benefit your self-confidence and your social life. There comes a time when you need to get it done. But where do you start?
- Talk to others about it.
- Ask about other people’s experiences with their dentist. Who is known for being nice, takes the time to reassure people and gets along well with children. That way you will find a nice dentist in your area.
- Make an appointment for a dental check-up, but agree with the dentist that nothing will be done the first time. The first time is to get acquainted and find out whether it clicks personally. Nothing to worry about.
Referral to specialty anxiety clinics
If you remain so anxious that you avoid a dental consultation, which will cause serious mouth problems and require even more treatment, call your own dentist or, if necessary, your doctor. Get a referral to one of the specialty anxiety clinics.
Fear of the dentist is unfortunately common for many patients. But that is not necessary. Dentists have all the experience and take the time to help you get over your fear. Very often they succeed well. And eventually they don’t succeed, even then they keep looking for a correct solution.