If the idea of sitting in a dentist’s chair is enough to give you nightmares, you’re not alone. Fear of the dentist, or “odontophobia”, is estimated to affect about 15% of Americans, or about 30 million people. Not to worry, though; there are many ways that both you and your dentist can ease your anxiety.
Going to a dental appointment with someone you know and trust, such as a friend or close relative, can help comfort anxious patients, whether children or adults. You may even ask the dentist if your guest can sit with you during treatment.
If the thought of a scary, masked figure looming over you is contributing to your fear, it may be a good idea to schedule an informational appointment, simply to meet your dentist and get to know the human under the lab coat. Talking to your dentist about your phobia will also ensure that he or she can take the appropriate steps to accommodate your needs.
Before beginning your procedure, set up a signal with your dentist, like raising your hand, which will tell him or her to stop immediately. Knowing that you will be able to communicate your discomfort can help ease your anxiety.
Occupying your mind with problem-solving tasks, like brain teasers, crossword puzzles, or word searches, can switch your brain into “logic mode” rather than the “fight-or-flight” mode of anxiety. Listening to an interesting podcast or familiar music during treatment can also help you feel more relaxed and comfortable.
If you fear the dentist due to a traumatizing incident you experienced as a child, remember that there have been many advancements in pain-free dentistry in the past few decades. You might be afraid of a procedure that isn’t even performed anymore, or one that is performed in a completely different way. If you have any questions about a tool, step, or treatment, ask away—the more you know, the less uncertainty you will experience.
Dental phobias can be serious, because they can cause a cycle of avoidance in which the patient, who has avoided preventative dental care due to fear, must now have an invasive procedure that is much more complex and costly than an ordinary dental cleaning would have been. The patient then has an even greater fear of the dentist’s office, and starts to avoid it again, starting the cycle anew. You can see why, if you suffer from fear of the dentist, it’s essential to break the cycle, lest you continue to put your oral health at risk.
When you’re ready to take the next big step towards a beautiful smile, call our Statesville dentist office. Dr. Robert Schmidt and his amazing staff will help you feel confident and secure during your appointment. To schedule an appointment with us, please click here.