About 8% of Americans, both adults and children, have a crippling fear of going to the dentist.
Experts refer to this fear as dentophobia. And While 8% struggle with dentophobia, 20% more people have anxiety about the dentist that make them stay away from a dentist office unless they have no other choice.
Having a fear of the dentist isn’t uncommon, but at some point in their lives, most everyone has to make an appointment.
So how can you get around your fear of going to the dentist?
Take a look at this guide to learn strategies that’ll help you stay calm while in the dentist chair.
What Causes Dentophobia?
Most people struggle with dentophobia because of a bad experience they had with a dentist in the past. Others have separate conditions that contribute to their fear, including things like substance abuse, anxiety disorders, PTSD, or victims of abuse.
This fear tends to stem from the lack of control a person has while visiting the dentist. A human’s natural instinct is to protect their open air passage. While a dentist is working in your mouth, that area is exposed. It’s also difficult to say anything if you begin to feel uncomfortable.
It’s the lack of control, and the pain that can accompany it, that leaves many patients fearful of the dentist.
How to Overcome Your Fear of the Dentist
There are several ways you can get around this fear. It starts with talking to your dentist and finding out ways you can be more comfortable during a dental procedure. This might also involve practicing relaxing strategies.
Here are a few tips that’ll help you deal with your dentophobia.
Talk to Your Dentist About Your Fear
The first appointment with your doctor shouldn’t involve anything other than talking. Find out if you’re comfortable with the dentist. Are they open to listing to your fears? Do they suggest alternative ways to do your procedure? Is their main priority your comfort?
If your dentist isn’t doing these things, you might want to find a new one.
You can also talk to your dentist about sedative options. Another helpful strategy is making a nonverbal signal both you and your dentist know. When you make this signal, it means they need to stop for a few moments to let you relax.
Bring Someone You Trust with You
Bring someone with your to your appointments who isn’t afraid of the dentist. If you trust this person, they can help you stay calm and still during the appointment. Let whoever you bring sit with you for the treatment as well.
Practice Breathing Techniques
Breathing exercises will relax your muscles and slow down your breathing. This will help you relax when you’re feeling uncomfortable. If you don’t know any breathing exercises, keep taking a deep breaths and holding them for a while before letting them go.
Bring along sound canceling headphones and some of your favorite music. You might want to bring songs you’ve never heard before so they focus your attention. Listening to music will block any noises from the dentist equipment.
If you need something to keep your mind off what’s going on, try counting or listening to an audiobook.
Visit a Psychologist
People with severe dentophobia might want to consider visiting a psychologist. This will allow you to overcome your fear in a safe and controlled environment.
Moving Past Dentophobia
The first part of dealing with your dentophobia is recognizing there’s something wrong. Remember, anxiety about going to the dentist is a real phobia, so don’t feel embarrassed. Talk to your dentist to find ways you can overcome your fear and make yourself more comfortable during the procedure.
Are you in need of some dental work? Head over to our appointment page and set up a visit with our office online.