How to Manage a Fear of the Dentist
If you or your children have a fear of the dentist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, your oral health is going to suffer accordingly. This situation can be tough to manage if you don’t take appropriate steps to fully understand this fear and to ensure that it doesn’t develop more intensely.
Understand the Root Causes
Studies have found that about 5-8 percent of all Americans avoid the dentist simply because they are afraid of them. This might not seem like that big of a number until you add another 20 percent that avoids dental visits unless they are necessary. That adds up to over one-quarter to nearly one-third of all people in the country. Fear of dental visits is nothing new and is something about which you should feel no shame. However, you should understand why this fear has become so prominent in your life.
Examine why you are afraid of dental care visits truthfully and honestly. This may be a tough situation for some because the root fear may be quite profound. For example, you may have had a bad visit to the dentist in which your mouth got cut or you bleed excessively. These deep-rooted issues are often hard to manage without help. Beyond these types of concerns, you may be afraid of pain and struggle to manage this worry. Many others have this same issue.
More generally, though, others have various types of mood and anxiety disorders that make them fear things that they shouldn’t. Others may have PTSD from traumatic experiences – such as serving time overseas in a war – or a history of domestic or sexual violence. If you find that your fear of dental visits is due to this intense pain, you should talk to a psychologist or a counselor to further explore these concerns and to help bring strength and stability back into your life.
Talk to the Dental Professional Before the Visit
If you find that your fear of the dentist is mostly based on uncertainty, you may want to visit the office before your first visit to get to know them. Most dental care professionals will schedule this type of meeting because they know how real dental fear is in many people. The idea here is to humanize the individual and to strip them of the fear that they may inspire. Most people in this profession are very caring and friendly people who will willingly work with you to overcome this problem.
However, if you find that your fear is not in the professional cleaning your teeth but their tools, you may want to sit down with the dental care professionals and examine their instruments in a non-threatening way. This step involves handling the tools, seeing how they run, and getting an idea of what to expect when they work on your teeth. People with a fear of dental instruments often relax once they have experienced them on their own and get an idea of how they work.
Other people may not react well to this step or need more involved help to manage their fear. In this situation, you may want to see if you can schedule a visit while somebody you know is getting dental care. During this visit, you will observe how they receive their care, watch your friend or loved one, and get a feel for what happens during a typical cleaning. In this way, you can eliminate much of the fear and anxiety that comes with this process and avoid feeling too anxious.
Master Relaxation Techniques
Before you visit any dentist, you should sit down and try mastering various types of relaxation techniques. These include deep breathing, yoga relaxation, and different kinds of behavioral-control methods. The idea here is to slow your heart and relax your muscles to help minimize your nerves. As you get worried and afraid, your whole body will tense up and may make your trip more difficult.
Start this relaxation before you even go to the office, sitting at home in a relaxing environment that you enjoy. Play music that calms your nerves and let your whole body come to a state of complete calm. Let somebody else take you to the dental office as you work to relax your mind and body even further. Play relaxing music on the way over – such as Chopin – and listen to this music in the dental office as you wait.
If your relaxation techniques don’t quite manage your fear entirely, you may want to consider sedation dentistry as well. This option will carefully put you under during your trip so that you don’t have to experience any of it while you’re awake. This step is an excellent way to transition to sedation-free dentistry and can give you the understanding that you need to get over your dental fear.
Visit a “Fear-Free” Professional
If the previous steps did little to minimize your dental fear and you still can’t handle even thinking about a trip to the dentist, you may want to visit what is becoming known as a fear-free dental care facility. These experts work hard to make their dental care less demanding and more comfortable to handle. Typically, this involves a series of process that includes making the facility less scary and working hard to be more inviting to patients when they visit the facility.
For example, one facility in Connecticut is built near a waterfall and uses a fireplace and soothing photography throughout the waiting room. Rather than using disturbing photos of people with gum disease, these photos are designed to relax people’s nerves and make their treatment more comfortable. The dental care professionals dress in more casual dress and try to present themselves as average people rather than a medical care provider who may cause pain.
These types of professionals may be a great choice if you can’t get over your fear in any other way. While they may not be as widespread enough to provide dental care to everyone, a trip to their facility may be an excellent first step. You can get your dental care here until you no longer have any fear of your trips. In this way, you can transition to a standard or traditional care facility and work hard to keep your teeth as healthy as possible.
Talk to Us Today
If you need help from a dentist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa who understands how to manage dental fear, please contact us at Horton Family Dental right away to learn more. Our experts will do what is necessary to ensure that your teeth are healthy and free from concerns.