Dentophobia, dental phobia, or odontophobia are well-known terms in dentistry and one of the most common problems among both adults and kids. It’s the fear of a dentist or a dental appointment. According to a study performed by Columbia University, up to 40 million adults in America avoid dental visits due to dentophobia. Statistics state that about 5-15% of the adults experience dentophobia, out of which 3% do not even make it to the dental clinic. The fear of a dentist or a dental appointment could be for any reason. Some might have had a terrifying experience with a dental procedure or a dentist when they were kids, while others might anticipate extreme pain associated with a dental procedure. Whatever the reason is, you should try and understand that anxiety and stress could make your dental visit even worse. A dentist can perform their job better when the patient co-operates by staying calm and relaxed. So here are five ways to deal with your fear of dentists-
1. Deep Breathing
One of the best ways to overcome the fear of the dentist is to practice slow and deep breathing. Usually, human beings tend to hold their breath while being nervous, which causes reduced oxygen intake that further leads to panic and stress. So the best way to avoid any additional stress and rush is to breathe slowly and mindfully. Try and practice controlled breathing, whereas you need to take in a deep breath, hold it for a while, and exhale slowly. By doing so, the heartbeat reduces and helps the muscles to relax. Several meditation gurus and experts suggest that a mindful, slow and controlled breathing benefits enormously at the time of panic and alleviates stress. So the next time you are in the dentist’s office, try and practice controlled deep breathing and other relaxation techniques to calm your mind and body before the dental procedure or checkup.
2. Listen to music or use a distraction
The biggest reason to fear a dental appointment for many people is due to the sound of the drill and other instruments that a dentist might use while performing a dental procedure. To overcome that, listen to music on headphones, as it distracts you from the sound of the drill. It’s better to tune into the music that you’ve never heard before, so it becomes more exciting and keeps your mind away from thinking about the procedure. If music doesn’t do the trick, then visit a dentist’s office that has a television or other distractions. You can put on a favorite show that you enjoy or watch a movie you’ve never seen while laying relaxed so that the dentist can do their job more effectively, without worrying about any sudden movements.
3. Choose the right dentist
It’s essential to choose the right dentist so you can get comfortable with them, and that helps ease your mind during the dental procedure. Thanks to technology and the internet, you can find the right dentist merely by searching ‘dentist office near me’ on google and read the online reviews of dentists, provided by people that have already visited the office. You can also ask your close friends or relatives to recommend a dentist that they visit. That way, you feel assured and less anxious when you receive a positive review about the dentist from a close friend or acquaintance. Make sure to research thoroughly and choose a dentist who specializes in dealing with patients experiencing severe dentophobia.
4. Schedule a pre-treatment appointment
Here is another simple way to overcome your fear of the dentist. You can schedule a meeting with the dentist before the actual date of appointment for the dental procedure. That plays a very vital role in getting used to the environment of the dentist’s office and build a rapport with the dentist and other staff. Make the most out of this meeting by communicating your fears and concerns to the dentists. They can provide you with further information about your treatment and the best plan of action according to your needs. That relieves stress and helps you stay calm, as you’ve already had an interaction with the dentist about the procedure and have an understanding of the process. If you think you are still not ready to go through a dental treatment after a single pre-treatment meeting, then check with the dentist if it’s possible for another pre-treatment appointment until you feel entirely comfortable about the procedure.
5. Use hand signals and communicate
Dentistry is a complicated job and gets even more difficult for the dentist if the patient does not co-operate or keeps moving during the procedure. Communicate with the dentist about your fears, whether it is with the tools and surgical equipment or the pain. Ask your dentist to recommend sedatives that can help you stay calm or even put you to sleep for a while. During the treatment, use hand signals to let the dentist know when you need a break, in case you feel uncomfortable. Remember that you can discuss every tiny detail of the treatment with your dentist and ensure maximum comfort before the procedure begins. That way, your dentist knows when to pause during the treatment if you’re feeling extreme discomfort.
Dentophobia is quite common, and if neglected, could lead to severe dental problems as well. If you think that you are experiencing extreme dentophobia, then it’s better to consult a professional to overcome the problem and then prepare for a dental visit. Remember, it’s always better to schedule an appointment on a leisure day rather than a busy day when in a hurry to avoid additional stress.