Are You Afraid of the Dentist?

Calgary SW DentistDoes anyone really like visiting the dentist? For most of us, regular check-ups and the occasional treatment is no big deal. For other people, fear of the dentist and dental clinic is all too real. So much so, that it prevents them from seeking dental help when they need it.

No longer treated as ‘something to just get over’, dentists and their teams have a range of options for helping patients with a fear of the dentist to make their visit easier.

#1 Tell Your Dentist

Adults, in particular, are embarrassed to admit to anyone, let alone their dentist that they have a fear or phobia regarding dental check-ups and treatment. Avoiding check-ups is not the answer: talking to your dentist is.

#2 What is it You Are Actually Afraid of?

Fear is an irrational reaction to something. It is an unpleasant and uncomfortable reaction, one that you don’t know how to control. As a result, you avoid facing it.

As well as an emotional reaction, it can be a physical reaction too. From a racing pulse to sweaty palms, your mind and body are paralyzed in fear.

Most of the time, people have no idea why or where this fear or phobia comes from. But it may be that you can identify some aspects of visiting the dentist that do cause you anxiety. For example, waiting for long periods and being able to hear the drill or other equipment in operation. Or maybe it is the ‘clinical smell’ that brings about anxiety and fear.

If it is possible to identify some of the triggers, it may be that the dental team can make changes so that when you visit the dentist, some of these things are not there to worry you.

#3 Book Early Appointments

If you have a fear or phobia of something, like the dentist, there is nothing worse than trying to go about your day without worrying about the later afternoon appointment. Many of our patients who find visiting the dental clinic an unpleasant and stressful experience, will book appointments first thing in the morning. This way, they ‘get it over and done with’ and not have to wait all day.

#4 Choose the Right Dentist

An estimated 5 to 8% of the population avoid visiting the dentist through fear. For some, it is the fear of being in the chair and ‘not in control’. For others, it is fear of pain or because they had a distressing experience as a child. The right dentist who understands fears and phobias will make the process a lot easier.

It is about managing and coping with the fear (and the physical and emotional reactions) rather than trying to make it disappear. If a dentist knows you have a phobia or fear, they will let you to sit in the chair at your own pace and allow you to get up should you need to. They will explain everything to you, asking your permission to continue and give you breaks from treatment, if you need it. In other words they work with you and your fear, rather than against it.

#5 Be Distracted

The dentist’s chair is a tough place to sit and trying to distract yourself can make the experience a little better. Why not take your headphones with you next time, and listen to some soothing music?
Longer Term Solutions
Fear and anxiety are different beasts to paralyzing phobia. But if you have issues with your teeth and need treatment, you are going to have to seek further help in overcoming your phobia to an extent that you can have the treatment you need.

But this is the most important thing: if you have a fear of the dentist, no matter how big or small, there is help available. Talk to your dental team and see how they can help.