How to Overcome Dental Fear Effectively
Oral health is the type of health that can’t be disregarded because if you don’t take care of it, you will not only feel its effect but it can also be seen in you physically specifically in your mouth. For example, if your teeth have cavities, your gum’s bleeding, and you have bad breath, those are the things that people will notice and will give them a hint that you’re not taking care of your oral health. This will be very embarrassing on your end but all dental problems are caused not only by negligence but also by fear.
It is dental fear that hinders people from maintaining a healthy mouth. Their fear of dentists overpowers their interest in maintaining a white smile and fresher breath. We all know how bad anxiety is and when it happens to people, there’s no way they will think of dental consequences that can affect their overall health. An unhealthy mouth will lead to serious diseases that include the heart and the brain. According to a research study, no matter how advanced dental services now, dental anxiety is still a big problem in society. That’s why it is important to learn how to get over dental fear.
What Is Dental Fear?
Dental fear or dentophobia is defined as a great fear in going to a dentist for any type of dental check-up or procedure. So, instead of going to the dentist to get their dental problems fixed, they would prefer to ignore the need for professional help because so that they can get away with the painful process. However, dental problems such as cavities don’t go away overnight rather worsen your teeth and trigger gum disease.
We are going to list down below the signs of dental phobia so you can identify if you are exhibiting such behaviors and the improvements you can make with this type of problem.
- Not wanting to go to the dentist no matter how painful your dental problem is
- Feeling sick when your family member insists on bringing you to the dentist
- Extreme nervousness when you sit on a dental chair
- Difficulty breathing when undergoing dental procedures
- Cold sweats every time you talk to your dentist
Why Do I Fear the Dentist?
People are scared of dentists because before they have their first dental appointment, it has been inculcated in their minds the painful process that happens inside the clinic. We can’t blame them for thinking that way because some dental procedures presented on the mainstream are often displayed as something very unbearable just like tooth extraction.
This is a misconception that needs to be eradicated from the minds of the people because dental procedures have been made easy and painless with the use of these modern dental tools. Somehow, if you anticipate pain, this is what you will feel and experience because your mind is very powerful in making things happen.
Fear of Extreme Pain
People are not that coward when it comes to bearing some pain. However, it will be a different story if the pain is extremely unbearable. That’s the reason why people would settle for poor dental hygiene rather than suffering from any dental procedure. Dental fear usually happens when a person has a not-so-nice experience with a dental operation, so they end up deciding to never get another one in the future. Most especially if the one they had experienced is extremely painful and creates mouth discomfort even after the procedure.
It can also be possible that one has not experienced any dental procedure before but has heard horror stories about their dental check-ups. It can be a family member or a friend that shares their personal experience of how scared they were the moment their tooth is extracted by the dentist. It could also be that they have watched failed dental operations on the internet that escalated into a serious health problem. All it takes is just one bad experience and everyone would think that the same thing would happen to them.
Fear of Needles
It is totally normal for people to be afraid of needles because needles are often used in medical procedures. Since childhood, the use of injection is accompanied by long needles that are really painful when injected in the skin. And since dental procedures include a needle for anesthesia purposes, this may be the root cause of dental phobia for some people. The injection right in the soft tissues of your gums is truthfully painful but it can be overcome, we will further discuss how to get over dental fear below.
Fear That the Anesthesia Won’t Work
One of the things that motivate people to not be scared of the dentist is the use of anesthesia for their dental procedures. However, we can’t remove doubts from their minds the moment they overthink situations like the dose of anesthesia won’t work and they may experience the pain instead of the numbness. Fear of the dentist can also trigger side effects like nausea and dizziness the moment the anesthesia has taken effect in the body.
Feeling Embarrassed of Your Dental Health
This may look absurd to some but there are people that are scared of the dentist because they feel ashamed of their dental problems. For example, if their teeth are full of cavities or if they have bad breath, their fear of the dentist will be triggered the moment they think of the bad comments they may receive from the dentist regarding their hygiene. They will start to feel conscious about how their mouth smells or how their teeth look like that they end up skipping dental check-ups.
Fear of Harsh Dental Noises
There are noises that trigger fear and this includes the noises of dental instruments used in a clinic. It may be weird for some people’s ears to hear the sounds of dental tools that are used in scraping tartar or plaque in one’s tooth. It is impossible to not hear these things inside a dental clinic because the clinic is also the storage room of the equipment needed for dental operations.
How to Get over Dental Fear?
Reframe Your Thinking
If you have a dental phobia, with any of the fear mentioned above, you have the say as to how you can reframe your mind. You should start thinking about the benefits that you can get in going to a dentist instead of the bad things that may happen to you. Instead of anticipating pain, you should anticipate the better outcome of your oral health. For example, if you have plaque and tartar that makes your teeth yellowish, think of how beautiful it would become if you submit yourself to a dental clinic.
Moreover, dental procedures only last for some minutes and it is not that long with regards to the time span of how healthy your mouth can get after the procedures. Try the ‘mind over matter’ mentality so you outweigh your dental phobia with better things that may come ahead of you. You are the only person that has control over your mind and body, so don’t let fear overwhelm you.
It is important to always communicate with your dentist so that if you have concerns regarding your dental fear, they can help you cope up with it. This is also applicable if your dentist is performing dental procedures on your teeth and you feel some tingling pain, no matter how bearable it is, if you don’t want to feel it, tell your dentist about it. In that way, he can create a higher dose of anesthesia to ease the pain.
So, if you know how to speak up, you will not encounter horrible experiences that may lead to being scared of the dentist. Remember that it is your right as a patient to express what you feel, instead of keeping it all to yourself. Nonetheless, opening up to your dentist is the best way to remove all your worries away about how you want your dental procedures to be done.
Get A Dentist that You Fully Trust
You have the choice to pick the dentist that will perform dental procedures in your mouth. In this way, you can choose the ones that you trust or feel very comfortable with. Fear of dentists could be triggered by the dentists because if you are afraid of how one can perform operations inside your mouth, there is no way you will feel secure with your next visit to a dental clinic.
You can ask your family, friends, and even co-workers for recommendations regarding the best dentist that took good care of their dental health. Observe their feedback about the convenience they feel when going to the dentist’s clinic. If you see that they are really satisfied with the service given, you should go check the dental clinic and meet the dentist.
It is important that you meet your dentist for the first time before undergoing dental procedures so that you can discuss the things that you want to happen during the procedure. You can also open up about your dental fear so that your dentist can adjust and prepare the things needed that will help you relax instead of worry. After meeting the dentist, you will have the say if you will proceed with that dentist or wait for more recommendations from friends.
Think of Advanced Dental Tools
Unlike before, dentists now have advanced dental tools that will cater to the needs of the patients. So, if you have undergone a dental procedure over a decade ago and you don’t like how painful it was, you won’t experience the same thing again today. Try to visit a dental clinic and you will notice how the equipment has changed over time. The modern dental tools also ensure patient’s convenience so that everything about maintaining their dental health is painless and very effective.
For example, the process of crown construction before takes weeks to finish so there is a need for you to come back to the dentist for the whole week, doing so will worsen dental phobia. But right now, crown construction can be done in just one hour using a device called CAD/CAM (Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing). Therefore, there is nothing to be scared of the dentists because they are working hard to ensure the health of your mouth by continuing to acquire advanced dental tools.
Use Your Earbuds
If the noise of the dental equipment is the one thing that triggers dental fear, it is absolutely best for you to bring earbuds. Your dentist will understand if you use earbuds during dental procedures if you explain ahead of time the reason why you are using them. Don’t be afraid to open up this thing to them because your dentists are also after your satisfaction or comfort.
If you don’t have earbuds with you, you can also distract yourself by watching television or other multimedia system inside the clinic that will change your focus. In this way, your mind will be redirected to some exciting things instead of thinking about the dental procedure happening.
Bring Your Loved One With You
Receiving emotional support from your family and friends is essential to overcome dental fear. You will be less nervous if you have someone beside you that you can always call whenever you feel afraid of undergoing dental procedures. Moreover, if you are with someone while visiting a dental clinic, he or she will help you in explaining to the dentist the things about your dental fear and the procedure that you can choose best for you.
Dental phobia includes not being able to speak for yourself because of the pressure you feel in being in a dental clinic. So, bring your loved one with you to ensure that there’s a person who can save you and encourage you whenever your dental fear starts to consume you. The love you received will surely provide a positive feeling for you to push through things.
Practice Meditation Techniques
Meditation is a vital part to make sure that you will not feel nervous before or during the dental procedure. It will relax your mind and body so that you won’t end up stressing yourself about the things that might happen. You can do this by closing your eyes and try not to think of anything, and then take a deep breath and slowly exhale to calm your nerves.
Scents can help you get over dental fear. So, you better ask your dentist if you can bring with you essential oils that will help you relax during a dental procedure. The most effective essential oil to reduce dental anxiety is lavender oil, this is according to a research study that considers the potential sedative characteristics of lavender oil inhaled by dental patients.
Integrate Preventive Measures
Preventive measures to keep your mouth healthy are very important if you have dental fear. Because if you already have white teeth, healthy gums, and fresher breath, you no longer need to push yourself in going to the dentist. So, as early as now, make sure that you know how to take good care of your oral health so that there’s no room for bacteria, cavities, and diseases inside your mouth.
We are not only talking about brushing and using mouthwash here but also flossing. Flossing is beneficial for the food debris stuck in your teeth. There are food particles that can’t be removed by brushing alone. It has been proven that plaque build-up can only be removed when a person combines the use of water flosser and brushing. Don’t use string floss anymore because the use of water flosser is also proven more effective in removing plaque from tooth surfaces than string floss. Therefore, if you have a water flosser with you, your mouth is protected and there’s a big chance that you will no longer have to visit your dentist and think of dental fear in the long run.
Steps in Using Water Flosser
- Fill the reservoir with warm water before placing it on the base.
- Water flossers come with different tips so choose the one that you favored the most.
- Click the tip into the handle.
- Turn on the water flosser and set the control dial too high to let the water flow. (The next time you will use it, you can set the control dial to any type of pressure you want.)
- In a sink, you have to lean over so that the water won’t stream down to your clothes.
- Place the tip at the gumline and let the water flow to clean each tooth.
- Move it from one gum to another.
- Once you have finished flossing your teeth, turn the water flosser off and remove the tip.
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You can overcome dental phobia slowly but in due time you will make it. As long as you don’t stop meeting a dentist, no matter how fearful it may be. Always convince yourself that going to a dentist will maintain your overall dental health. If you have children in the family, as early as now is the best time to convince them about the importance of oral care. You can learn more about taking care of children’s dental health here.