A fear of the dentist is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, about 9-15% of Americans suffer from this fear and avoid the dentist as a result. However, taking steps to overcome this anxiety can be very important for your oral health in the long run. That’s why we recommend taking the following eight steps to get you through your appointment with greater ease.
Step 1: Book an appointment with a dentist you’re comfortable with.
One of the most important steps you can take to make your dentist appointments easier is to find a dentist you trust. Ask a friend that you trust (particularly if they, too, suffer from a fear of the dentist) to recommend a dentist they like. The key is to find someone you’re comfortable with so that you can discuss your concerns openly.
Step 2: Bring a buddy to your appointment.
Sometimes, bringing someone to support you can be a huge help. Try bringing a friend, partner, or family member to your appointment. Make sure it is someone who understands your fear of the dentist, but doesn’t share this fear. The key is to have someone who calms you down, rather than increasing your tension about the appointment.
Step 3: Communicate your fears with your dentist.
Communication is so important when dealing with your fear of the dentist. When you get to your appointment, be sure to discuss your fears openly. This will allow your dentist to choose the best, least invasive treatment method. Your dentist may also discuss with you some nonverbal cues you can use to ask for a break and ultimately help you reestablish control during the appointment.
Step 4: See if sedatives are appropriate.
In certain cases, sedatives can be a big help for patients with a fear of the dentist. Laughing gas, or nitrous oxide, is quite helpful for nervous patients and does not have a hangover effect. Ask your dentist if he or she thinks nitrous oxide will be helpful in your particular circumstances.
Step 5: Practice relaxation techniques throughout the appointment.
Certain relaxation techniques can prove to be very helpful when dealing with the stress of a dentist appointment. Focus on your breath or practice relaxing each part of your body in turn. You might even bring a stress ball if you think it will be helpful!
Step 6: Distract yourself.
We encourage you to listen to music, a TV show, or even a podcast during your appointment. Actually, keeping headphones in can often make a big difference in reducing your anxiety, as this can distract you from the unnerving sound of a drill.
Step 7: Reward yourself.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do to make you dread the dentist a little less is to reward yourself for going! Shift your overall mindset about the dentist by associating it with a gift that you’re going to give yourself or a little getaway you’re going to go on afterwards.
Step 8: Practice good oral hygiene.
Finally, if you want to make sure that your dentist appointment is as easy as possible, you’ll want to keep up a good oral healthcare routine. By preventing severe tooth decay and gum disease, you can ensure that your visits to the dentist will not require more invasive procedures to restore your health.
At Caputo Dental, we want to make sure you feel safe and comfortable throughout your visit. Call our Naperville office today to schedule your appointment.