A fear of dentists is a very real problem for thousands of people. Whether they've had a negative experience at a dentist previously or they've heard horror stories from friends and family members, fear often multiplies, causing loads of dental problems. The treatment of dental phobia is incredibly beneficial to oral health and better overall whole-body health.
It may sound silly to people who have had good experiences with their dental practitioner, but dental phobia is a real and common phenomenon. Fortunately for fearful patients, there are various treatment options available that allow patients to have the dental care that they need while alleviating a lot of their anxiety.
Experienced dentists understand dental phobias and will work with anxious patients to alleviate their anxiety before it can become a problem. Dentists with experience in the treatment of phobic patients can calmly explain the process of the treatment and put the patient in control. They make sure that the patient understands what's going to happen, and they ask for permission to continue the treatment. This gives patients a sense of control over their treatments, and removes a lot of the out-of-control feelings that often accompany dental treatments.
For patients who are experiencing dental phobia, several suggestions have proven to be successful.
1. Go to your first visit with a friend or family member that you know well and trust. Sometimes having a friendly and familiar face is all that's needed to make the process run a lot more smoothly. Your friend (preferably one who has sufficient experience in the dental office as a patient) can assuage your fears before they have a chance to become overwhelming.
2. While receiving treatment, find a way to distract yourself from the procedure itself. Many dentists will play music or have a TV available in the treatment room to keep an anxious patient's mind off of what's happening. If a TV is not available, listen to music on headphones and don't pay attention to what the dentist is doing.
3. Some dentists now offer sedation dentistry, which can relax an anxious patient and allow necessary treatments to occur without undue stress. With I.V. sedation anesthesia safely provided by an anesthesiologist, years of work can often be caught up in one, comfortable visit. Most patients feel like they were in the chair for just a few minutes!
4. Practice relaxation techniques. Anxiety is often accompanied with shallow, light breathing, which can make stress feel even more profound. Simply practicing deep breathing techniques can make a world of difference in a patient's mental state, and don't be afraid to ask to take a break if things start to seem too overwhelming.
The most important thing for patients with dental phobia to remember is that they need to find a dental office and dentist they feel comfortable with. Finding a dentist you can trust is incredibly important. The more comfortable you feel with your dental practitioner, the more likely you will be to continue to be treated for any issues that may arise. If patients distrust their dentist, they're likely to skip appointments or refuse to make them when there is a problem. Finding the right dental office is worth the effort if it means treating problems sooner rather than later. By practicing good oral care and nipping potential issues in the bud, extensive treatments may not be necessary - and regular checkups can identify and tackle issues before they become problems.